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Movie Review: Just Friends (2005)

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It’s not the first movie you might think of when making a list of holiday classics, but this 2005 film starring Ryan Reynolds, Anna Faris and Amy Smart definitely should be on the list of ones to watch this season.

The movie opens on Chris Brander (Ryan Reynolds in a fat suit) while Boys II Men’s “I Swear” plays in the background. The camera pans around the room to photos of him and best friend Jamie at cheerleading practice, and then to a photo of Jamie kissing her boyfriend while Chris stands close by.  It is clear from the first five minutes of the movie exactly what kind of movie it will be but let’s face it we’re not watching for the suspense and surprise endings.

Chris is hopelessly in love with Jamie, the typical popular cheerleader. After suffering through a humiliating scene at Jamie’s High School Graduation party when he had planned to finally reveal his feelings, Chris vows he’ll someday become “the popular kid.” Cut to 10 years later; Chris lives in LA, works for a major record label, is an all star hockey playe,r and of course he’s completely gorgeous.

Anna Faris plays Samantha James, a super-model-turned-singer whom Reynolds’ manager desperately wants to sign; he recruits Chris to do the job. One problem: Samantha James is an overly provocative and incredibly clingy and territorial woman who desperately wants Chris’ affections in exchange for her promise to sign with his company.

When the two accidentally end up in New Jersey on their way to Paris for Christmas, Reynolds finds himself repeatedly switching back and forth between the person he is and the high school geek he used to be while simultaneously trying to keep Samantha happy and out of his way.

Chris has developed various rules about how to talk to and generally treat women so that he doesn’t end up in the dreaded “Friend Zone.” He repeatedly claims that a “day date” is the fast track into the “Friend Zone” and a sure fire way to get a girl is to kiss her at the end of the date “no matter what.”

All of this flies out of the window of course when he sees Jamie and tries all over again to get her to like him, this time using a new-found “knowledge of women.”

Between the one-liners from Julie Hagerty, who plays Mrs. Brander, and Anna Faris’ hilarious acting this movie is full of the kind of jokes and lines that you just have to recite over a over in conversations and at other moments when the opportunity presents itself (which for me seems to be all the time).

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