Part #1 of the 2017 Christmas Countdown.
Romantic comedies are ten a penny nowadays, but good ones are few and far between. Just Friends is one such good one, but being surrounded by such mediocrity means that it often gets overlooked.
Chris (Ryan Reynolds) is hopelessly in love with his best friend Jamie (Amy Smart), but she sees him as more of a brother than a lover. When the opportunity arises for him to open up about his feelings to her, he is humiliated by his peers and promptly leaves town.
Many years pass and Chris has used Jamie’s rejection of him to turn his life around. He’s no longer the chubby dweeb he was in high school, instead he’s a chiselled and charming hunk with a promising career in the music industry. When a twist of fate sees him stranded in his old hometown, Chris seizes the opportunity to finally woo the one that got away, but he faces stiff competition from Dusty (Chris Klein), another former inhabitant of Jamie’s high school friend zone.
Just Friends isn’t particularly original by any stretch of the imagination. It shares beats and plot points with plenty of sub par romantic comedies, but what sets this apart is the focus on the comedy aspect. Most RomComs seem to abandon comedy in favour of a soppy story, and while Just Friends does fall into that trap towards the end, for the most part it’s genuinely funny.
Ryan Reynolds is no stranger to a comedy role, so it’s no surprise that he’s firmly in his comfort zone here. The standout comedic moments, however, come from the supporting cast. Anna Faris is equal parts annoying and hilarious as the wannabe rock star Samantha, and Christopher Marquette entertains as Chris’s goofy younger brother Mike. Individually, these characters are not all that interesting, but their interactions with each other make for some memorable moments.
Just Friends doesn’t break the mould of romantic comedies, but it’s still a good example of one done right. It’s an entirely predictable yet enjoyable romp through familiar territory.