Los Angeles Times

'Just Friends'

Times Staff Writer

In "Just Friends," Ryan Reynolds, who has established himself as an actor by demonstrating his versatility and not relying on his looks, plays a young man who 10 years earlier left New Jersey suburbia as a sensitive, overweight, double-chinned and much-abused high school student but returns as a buff, handsome high-powered Hollywood music executive. An unexpected detour on his way to Paris brings him home again, making him realize he still loves the local girl (Amy Smart) who back then told him she loved him — like a brother. His challenge is to make her see him as a love interest and not just her best friend from school days.

There have been worse premises for a romantic comedy, but director Roger Kumble and writer Adam "Tex" Davis could scarcely have done a worse job developing it. This is a standard-issue gross Hollywood knockabout comedy in which slapstick antics have been piled up with a steam shovel and driven home with a sledgehammer. Reynolds and Smart are game and even dimensional, but all others are stuck playing tiresome, obnoxious characters.

"Just Friends," rated PG-13 for sexual content, including some dialogue. (1:34) In general release.

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