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New Line Home Cinema presents
Just Friends (2005)

"Whoopsie! I'm naked."
- Samantha James (Anna Faris)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga   
Published: March 07, 2006

Stars: Ryan Reynolds, Amy Smart
Other Stars: Anna Faris, Christopher Marquette, Chris Klein
Director: Roger Kumble

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for (sexual content including some dialogue)
Run Time: 01h:34m:21s
Release Date: March 07, 2006
UPC: 794043101762
Genre: comedy


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B C-AA B+

DVD Review

Ryan Reynolds has carved a nice little niche for himself as the "it" comedic actor of the moment. However, the demographic he appeals to is pretty much limited to teenage-to-college age boys who like their comedy straightforward and scatological. His big break was the surprise DVD hit Van Wilder, but since then, he's frequented U.S. theaters; headlining the comedy Waiting..., and delving into "serious" acting with Blade: Trinity and The Amityville Horror. Reynolds is back to what he does best in 2005's Just Friends.

Just Friends finds Chris Brander (Reynolds) enjoying a posh lifestyle as a music industry executive in Los Angeles. His boss (Stephen Root) is after the biggest pop star in the world, Samantha James (Anna Faris), and has given Chris the assignment of wooing to sign with their record company by taking her to Paris. After a fluke on-board accident, Chris' plane makes an emergency landing near his hometown in New Jersey and Chris decides to look up Jamie (Amy Smart), a childhood friend who he had a crush on in high school, but could never get past the "friend zone" with. The problem back then was that Chris was an overweight dork. Now, he's a good-looking, rich guy who thinks he can land any woman he wants. It's just too bad that the old Chris' personality didn't carry-over to the new, modern Chris. As a result, Jamie is seemingly interested in a fellow high school dork, Dusty (Chris Klein), who is as wholesome as he's always been.

Just Friends does have quite a few amusing moments, but I cringed at enough bad jokes to refrain from giving it a higher grade. This is Reynolds at his best, channeling Chevy Chase's physical comedy and even a bit of Bill Murray's wit. Most of the cast is in fine form (especially Smart and Klein), but this is a prime example of actors abandoned by their screenwriter. Things cruise along for the first hour, but then fly off the rails as idiotic storylines ensue. The film is full of ideas that are hilarious at first, but are eventually reduced to unfunny time-fillers. A prime example is the sequence where Chris takes Jamie to see The Notebook, while his mom (Julie Hagerty) and Dusty tag along. The way they rip on that film is great, but once they get to the screening, there's nowhere left to go with the idea, and it's drawn out way too long.

Anna Faris has given some memorable performances in the past (the Scary Movie pictures), but in Just Friends, she's incredibly annoying and just plain scary. Faris is at her best when her quirky mannerisms are toned down, but here, she's allowed to let loose as she parodies the Britney Spears and Ashlee Simpsons of the world.

Hopefully, Just Friends will be remembered as a bridge to bigger and better things for Ryan Reynolds. The potential for him to become a top-flight comedic actor is there, but safe, studio films like this keep getting in his way. I'm sure the paycheck is nice, but perhaps a supporting role in a challenging indie comedy is the right move for Reynolds (and his fans) at this stage in his career.

Rating for Style: B
Rating for Substance: C-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.85:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: The 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is solid and on par with other recent theatrical releases. Colors are very well-rendered, with no bleeding or distracting blemishes, and nicely balanced contrast and black levels throughout. The transfer is free from dirt, grain, and other flaws, while always displaying sharp, detailed images.

Image Transfer Grade: A

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: There's both a Dolby Digital 5.1 and 2.0 audio track. The surrounds are very active on both mixes, but the 5.1 benefits from a more prominent bass presence and wider dynamic range. Both tracks also feature crisp, clear dialogue that works in tandem with the rest of the mix.

Audio Transfer Grade: A

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 24 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish with remote access
1 Original Trailer(s)
5 Other Trailer(s) featuring Take the Lead, National Lampoon's Adam & Eve, The Thing About My Folks, How To Lose Your Lover, Rumor Has It...
5 Deleted Scenes
1 Alternate Endings
11 Featurette(s)
1 Feature/Episode commentary by director Roger Kumble, writer Adam "Tex" Davis, producer Chris Bender, co-producer Jake Weiner, executive producers Richard Brener and Cale Boyter
Packaging: Keep Case
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. "Jamie Smiles" Music Video
  2. Gag Reel
Extras Review: The extras collection is very healthy, beginning with an audio commentary that features director Roger Kumble, writer Adam "Tex" Davis, producer Chris Bender, co-producer Jake Weiner, and executive producers Richard Brener and Cale Boyter. This rather large group does a lot of joking around, but finds the time to divulge some juicy info about the shoot.

A three-minute gag reel is only sporadically funny, while the six deleted and alternate scenes (including an appearance by the famous musician who is also Reynolds real-life fiancée) are actually very funny. An alternate ending is among these clips, and is interesting in that we see a drastic change in the Samantha James character.

A total of 11 featurettes are up next, running nearly an hour. A wide variety of topics are covered, including the "friend zone," the intricacies of filming, and a series of reshoots that had to be done before the movie hit theaters. We also get to hear about the makeup work that Ryan Reynolds had to sit through to transform from high school Chris to present day Chris.

Also on board is a very funny music video for Jamie Smiles and a collection of trailers.

Extras Grade: B+

 

Final Comments

Despite Ryan Reynolds' best efforts, Just Friends can't overcome a lame script, full of implausibility and lacking common sense. There are some laughs, but they aren't consistent enough to take this film to the next level. New Line Home Video's DVD treatment is top notch, including an excellent audio and video presentation and a nice extras collection.

 


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