If you're Just Friends, you know you're in trouble when the funniest part of the film comes during the credits, as Ryan Reynolds lip-synchs to C-listers All-4-One's "I Swear." Did I mention that Reynolds does so in his not-terribly-convincing pudgy suit? In the annals of making beautiful people less so, this Roger Kumble-directed flick ranks down there with America's Sweethearts, in which Julia Roberts was laughably transformed into the ugly duckling to middling effect.
In this Adam "Tex" Davis-penned fusion of rom-com and wacky holiday farce, Reynolds stars as Chris Brander, the prototypical high school "nice guy" who befriends Jamie Palamino (Amy Smart) but can't quite break out of the "friend zone," much to his eternal chagrin. Fast forward a decade and Chris has dropped his excess poundage, snapped up a job as a high-powered record executive and become a dedicated womanizer, thanks in no small part to his being unintentionally scorned in high school. His flashy boss, KC (a tragically under-utilized Stephen Root), charges Chris with landing hot pop sensation Samantha James (Anna Faris, sending up every famous blonde bimbo of the last five years) and her new record. When plane problems force Chris to land in his Jersey hometown for the first time in 10 years, he faces an unexpected reunion with everyone he left behind – including Jamie.
As expected, Just Friends plays absolutely everything broad, which suits Reynolds' brash brand of comedy just fine – in fact, were it not for his inherent charisma, this flick would be borderline unwatchable; this piece of fluff is as disposable as they come. I couldn't help wondering while watching what Just Friends would've been like had it ditched the safe PG-13 rating and gone for broke as an R rated raunchfest – there are scenes where you can feel the actors straining under the yoke of MPAA-sanctioned propriety. Nevertheless, it's diverting enough but utterly forgettable – something fun to throw on if you're bored, but don't seek it out unless you're a die-hard fan of either Amy Smart or Ryan Reynolds (and if you're that big of a fan, you're probably re-watching Waiting ... for the 83rd time).
Just Friends arrives on DVD sporting a sharp, defect-free 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer that suffers from no edge enhancement that I could detect. Free from smearing, video noise or any other visual problem you'd care to name, this comedy looks great.
Despite being a comedy, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack included here has a few moments to shine: the low end gets a brief work-out, while the surrounds also chip in, notably towards the end. It's a mostly immersive, dialogue-heavy mix that doesn't put too much strain on the system. A Dolby 2.0 track is also included.
For a film that bounced in and out of theaters at lightning speed, New Line certainly spared no amount of supplemental material: a jokey, not terribly informative commentary track with director Roger Kumble, writer Adam "Tex" Davis, producer Chris Bender, co-producer Jake Weiner, executive producers Richard Brener and Cale Boyter is on hand as is a three minute gag reel, presented in anamorphic widescreen; six deleted/alternate scenes, presented in anamorphic widescreen with Dolby Digital 5.1 and playable separately or together with optional commentary from Kumble, Davis and Bender (including an Alanis Morrissette cameo); two deleted/alternate scenes have behind-the-scenes featurettes branching off from them; nine behind the scenes mini-featurettes, playable separately or together are included as is the three-minute, deadpan "Jamie Smiles" music video, presented in anamorphic widescreen; the film's theatrical trailer is here with trailers for Take The Lead, National Lampoon's Adam & Eve, The Thing About My Folks, How To Lose Your Lover and Rumor Has It... rounding out the disc.
Just Friends is a surprisingly violent rom-com/holiday farce fusion that fails more often than it works, limping along to the finish line, delivering its most humorous moments in the credits – Ryan Reynolds acquits himself well and the extras are almost more fun that the film itself. Rent it.