The Red Right Hand
  www.theredrighthand.co.uk





JUST FRIENDS
Moments Like This Have Been Ruining Friendships For Centuries

Director
Roger Kumble
Starring
Ryan Reynolds
Amy Smart
Anna Faris
Chris Klein

Ryan Reynolds ruined Blade 3 for me, Amy Smart had a similar effect in Rat Race and yet the both proved they can actually act in The Butterfly Effect and.. well, Reynolds had that cameo appearance in Harold & Kumar... right? As the gay surgeon. That was funny, right? So I don't like Ryan Reynolds, who cares? On seeing the trailer all I could think about was how much I detest Reynolds' style of comedy and the idea of him in a fat suit failed to hook me. The initial plot is about Chris Brander [Reynolds], a geeky fat kid who, for whatever reason, has befriended the hot, popular cheerleader, Jamie Palamino  [Smart] (Palamino? Oh, well done, how subtle: Pal-of-mine). Unfortunately for our portly, retainer-inflicted lead he has been confined to the 'friend zone' - in which he stands no chance of being upgraded to boyfriend. Having been ridiculed at a party (bloody American high school kids and their bloody parties!) he throws a strop and cycles off screaming, "I'll show you! I'll show you all!" Cut to 10 years later, to a much more toned, better-looking Chris - considering we don't see any hint of how he changed or where he went to college we're left with the impression that he cycled from the party in New Jersey, all the way to Los Angeles. Personally, I find the notion of a fat guy cycling across the states after having a tantrum at a party because a bird wouldn't go out with him pretty funny - which is a credit to someone writing a comedy.

So now Chris is buff, popular, good with the ladies, sleeps around, plays sports, holds a successful job in the record industry, earns oodles of cash - living the 21st Century American dream. Chris is sent on a head-hunting mission by his boss, trying to ensnare a blonde talentless bimbo who is seemingly famous for being a bit of a slutty tramp (I like to call this popular socially degenerating syndrome Parius Hiltonus; seems to be an affliction that's widespread across North America). After a rather humorous encounter with the Britney-Spears-esque Samantha [Faris] and a microwave, Chris' plane is grounded in New Jersey. Stranded without options he finds himself knocking at his Mother's door and seeing his bedroom for the first time in 10 years (again backing up my theory that he cycled to LA) he is suddenly confronted with a wall of photos of his friend, Jamie and himself. With his brother (Mike) [Chris Marquette] arguing and fighting with him as if they were still kids, his odd distanced Mother [Julie Hagerty] innocently unaware of his worries and the sex-crazed Samantha all driving him insane, Chris heads off to a local bar for a drink. Having spotted two of his old school friends, Chuck [Fred Ewanuick] & Darla [Amy Matysio], Chris reintroduces himself and they catch up on old times. Turns out they've married each other and Chuck has become a dental surgeon - I only mention this because later on during a pep-talk Chuck is clearly sitting in his dentists chair drinking a can of coca cola... do dentists EVER do that? Suddenly, out of the corner of his eye, Chris catches sight of his teenage crush.

After their awkward meeting -namely thanks to Samantha's constant interruptions- they agree to meet for lunch. Despite Chris' attempts to impress her, first by name dropping and flaunting his success then by being overly sensitive, his attempts are thwarted by the seemingly perfect Dusty [Klein]. Dusty's first appearance in the film is in the opening few minutes, as the long, greasy haired, spotty nerd who also likes Jamie and is determined to sing her a song that he's been practicing for -what seems like- his entire life. Dusty is the moral opposite of Chris, as we find out he was kept in the 'friend zone' too. The main difference being he has improved himself to seek revenge. The real problem I have with this film is that people who are bullied to that extent rarely get revenge (which is actually one of the messages the film tries to convey) and mostly end up being obsessed psychotic killers (see Red Dragon).

The plot starts to feel like a sketch-show being loosely strung together, one embarrassing moment following the other. The fluidity suffers greatly because of poor writing (Adam Davis, you are to blame!) but this is almost forgivable as the content is fairly good. The trailers for this film were badly done and rather dull but I was left with the impression (something most people seem to think these days) that all the humorous parts/lines were included within the trailer - to snag as many people as possible. Although the tedium started to kick in and it became apparent that Chris simply wasn't going to stop hounding Jamie until she accepted him as her own, it still plodded on nicely enough for you to stay with it.

This film shouldn't be funny, plain and simple. It's the same plot devices with the same jokes yet something seems fresh about it. I can't quite explain it, maybe it's the actors gelling together (most being of the same age - adding to that high school reunion thing) particularly well, maybe it's Reynold's new found Carrey/Belushi style of comedy or maybe (more than likely) it's the fact that every five minutes Chris is fighting with his brother Mike as if they were real siblings. It's the sort of quasi-realism that makes the story worth watching; the significant factor that aids the slow repetitive nature of the plot. I wouldn't say it's brilliant but it's definitely worth a watch if you're an American Pie fan.

Release Date:
6th January 2005

The Scene To Look Out For:
Having been told to look after Samantha, Mike takes her to the mall, where she suffers an accident. Chris then comes home to find her on his bedroom floor, blanket wrapped around her head with ice-pack atop, sucking on a tube of toothpaste muttering about Blueberries - hehehe, Faris you are finally forgiven for Scary Movie 2.... I take that back, Scary Movie 2 sucked.

Notable Characters:
Klein as Dusty Dinkleman was so unrecognisable at the start it put Reynold's fat suit to shame. But in all fairness, Faris' performance as the deranged airhead pop sensation is so pepped and energy-driven that you can't help but get sucked in by her ridiculous, self-centred attitude.

Highlighted Quote:
"You and I are going to be the greatest musical/manager team since Jessica Simpson and her father, only you and I get to *mreow* and they can't 'cause it's illegal.. I looked it up"

In A Few Words:
"Nothing clever but different enough to make me chuckle - which is all a teen-comedy should be"

Total Score:
6/10


Matthew Stogdon