By Michael Ferraro | November 25, 2005

Ryan Reynolds is like the new Kevin Costner. No matter what character he is playing, it’s always the same performance (as far as body language and facial expressions are concerned). Yet, he continues to get work and the films he stars in make money. I guess he is a lot better than that other guy that starred in almost every other comedy in the late 1990s/early 2000s (whatever happened to Jason Biggs anyway?).

The first few minutes of “Just Friends” are a cause for concern. It begins by introducing us to Chris (Reynolds), an overweight high school kid that loves to sing boy band tunes in front of the mirror. After his rendition of that nauseating “All-4-One” song, he attends a party with a mission to declare his interminable love to his best friend, Jamie (Amy Smart). Instead of things going perfectly, like he imagined during the tragic karaoke episode, they go horribly wrong. This event inspires him to change his lifestyle – he leaves the fat suit behind and becomes a hotshot music executive in good old Los Angeles.

Reynolds obviously isn’t chunky so he wears a suit instead. If Shallow Hal proved anything, it’s that people in fat suits really aren’t that funny. No matter if you look anorexic, or if you’re Ben Stiller, or even if you’re just some regular looking dude. Thankfully, the filmmakers opted not to make this the entire focal point of the film as the sequence only lasts a few short moments.

The only saving grace this film has to offer is the chaotic relationship between Chris and his younger brother Mike (played by Chris Marquette). Mike is a typical younger sibling – smart-alecky and an instigator – that is always around to remind Chris just how fat he was or how he just masturbated to Samantha mere minutes ago. Being a younger brother myself, I could easily understand where Mike was coming from and why he chose to torture Chris the way he does. There is no real reason why we insist on making fools of our older, weaker, sibling in front of company but we continue to do it anyway. We even find joy in it.

The main problem with “Just Friends” is that it never attempts to add any kind of freshness or imagination to the clichés it so easily embraces. Man loves girl, girl doesn’t love man, other man falls for girl, girl must choose one, and you always know which one that will be.

There is also a lot of screaming, punching, kicking, shouting, hair pulling, biting, wailing, scratching and other bodily harms all throughout this movie. Most of the shouting-related elements come from Samantha, a pop star from Hell (played by Anna Faris). Faris puts everything into the role that encapsulates all of the usual facets those annoying bubblegum celebrities we can’t stand (Christina Aguilera, The Simpson Sisters, and Britney Spears come to mind) possess and then some.

Despite the fact that we are watching Reynolds do the same schtick yet again, director Roger Kumble never lets him outlast a joke or take a gimmick too far. The plot is nothing short of formulaic but what comedy of this nature isn’t these days?

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