Just Friends

Year: 2006
Director: Roger Kumble
Cast: Ryan Reynolds, Amy Smart, Chris Klein, Anna Faris, Julie Hagerty
In one of smallest but most memorable touches of the film, a bouncer throws Chris (Reynolds) out into the snow, yelling 'And stay out'. Listen carefully and you'll hear him mutter '...always wanted to say that' on his way back inside.

Any story (particular the cliché-strewn landscape of the romantic comedy) that gives us something different will be pounced upon by audiences, and while Just Friends is light, airy and fluffy, it's not one of those formula-driven, scripted-by-committee studio movies.

A short prologue introduces the geeky and overweight Chris and the friendship (and secret crush) he's harboured for Jamie (Smart) for most of his life. When his classmates use his feelings to humiliate him at the graduation party, Chris rides off on his bike, swearing he'll show them all.

Then we meet the present-day Chris, an LA player who's left New Jersey far behind. Escorting an airhead celebrity bimbo (whom director Kumble described as a parody of 'all of 'em' - Paris, Nikki, Jessica, etc) across country, their plane puts down right near his home town and Chris finds himself back in the middle of the lives and loves he thought he'd left behind, including the still beautiful Jamie.

Little about Just Friends is as predictable as you assume it'll be. There are both genuine laughs and moments of tenderness peppered throughout that are really effective.

Ryan Reynolds hasn't made the best choices in films so far (including the disappointing Blade: Trinity and the puerile, unfunny Waiting), but he's been the best thing about most of the films he's been in, with a genuine presence and a real sense for comedy few of his peers can muster.

If you don't like romantic comedies you won't like it. It's kind of silly, but it's also cute, sweet and funny, and if you do like romantic comedies, what else can you ask for?

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