Three and a half stars. Pretty good.
This seems to be a rare example of the "Romantic Comedy For Guys" sub-genre. Maybe it's because the comedy is more strongly emphasized than the romance; maybe it's because the protagonist Chris Brander (Ryan Reynolds) is portrayed in a quite ambiguous way--he might actually still be a complete jerk, rather than the fully reformed character a romantic comedy would generally have the leading man become. Nor is it a sex-filled or gross-out comedy designed to appeal to Men's lower-brainstem sense of humour. Sure, there are plenty of base laughs, but the film also has its share of subtlety.
The story is that Chris Brander was an overweight geek in high-school nerd, and madly in love with his best friend Jamie Palomino (Amy Smart). His confession of eternal love for her gets intercepted by a loutish classmate, and he ends up laughed out of Jamie's graduation party. Now, ten years later, he is a good-looking, successful record producer in LA, and an accomplished ladies man. Under orders from his boss (a short, but funny turn from Stephen Root), he is courting talentless pin-up Samantha James (Anna Faris) to try and get her to sign to their label. A trip to Paris turns sour, and the two of them end up in Chris's home town in New Jersey, which he hasn't visisted leaving school. When he bumps into Jamie in a bar, he finds that he is still in love with her, and he is determined to pursue her. This is made difficult, however, by the spoiled, psychotic starlet on his arm.
With its themes of ambiguous homecoming and interrupted romance, it has touches of Grosse Pointe Blank to it, but Just Friends never tries to be that profound, or to explore the cognitive dissonance a ten-year gap can wreak. It takes a few key threads and plays them for laughs, but most of the story is about the here and now: Chris's attempts to get Samantha out of his hair, his failed attempts to impress Jamie with the person he has become, and his clashes with a rival suitor.
I love Ryan Reynolds, but I think he's at his best when he underplays his comedy. There are some scenes where he hams up his performance in a Jim Carrey/Ben Stiller style, and they just didn't work for me. Amy Smart is more than equal to him as a romantic foil, and Anna Faris is splendidly disturbed. Overall, it's a far better better and funnier film than I had been expecting based on the trailer. It's not a classic, but I certainly walked out with a smile on my face.