Monday, December 16, 2013

Just Friends (A Shitmas Post from Jay of The Sexy Armpit)

"...Jersey's not my idea of a good time" - Chris Brander

Horror movies don't scare me. Romcoms? YES. I don't even like saying that word let alone typing it. Much like the way Lydia called upon Beetlejuice, the remote possibility exists that if you say the word romcom 3 times you will suck yourself into a sappy, horribly written and acted Lifetime movie. I'm a guy, and from my perspective, if you have to suffer through a holiday romcom with your significant other, why not make it a bearable one? Better yet, how about one that's more than bearable, it's actually funny? For your Christmas...uh...I mean SHITMAS viewing pleasure, I suggest you give 2005's JUST FRIENDS a watch this holiday season.

As Golden Girl Sophia Petrillo used to say "Picture It," New Jersey, 1995. Chris Brander (Ryan Reynolds), an awkward, overweight, high school cheerleader gets his yearbook stolen by a knucklehead jock at a graduation party thrown for his major crush, Jamie. Jamie always considered Chris her best friend, but to Brander's dismay, that was all it was. At the party, one of the jocks proceeded to read a heartfelt message Chris wrote to Jamie in her yearbook out loud for the entire party to hear. Now that Chris' secret romantic feelings for Jamie were spilled, he became an inflated All 4 One- singing embarrassment.

10 years later Brander's thin and a lady killer, working for a music label in Los Angeles. His latest project for his boss is to lure whack-job pop star Samantha James (Ana Faris) to his label. In the process, he runs into his high school crush at a bar in Jersey where she's bartending. Chris still finds himself obsessed with Jamie, who's played so realistically by Amy Smart, but he's still merely her friend. Now, Brander's got a legitimate chance to get Jamie to be his girlfriend, but first how is he going to get himself out of the dreaded Friend Zone?

Inception this is not, but it does work on a couple of levels. This is an easily digestible holiday date movie, but this is also Jersey movie before the craze kicked into high gear nearly four years later with the premiere of MTV's Jersey Shore. Although much of Just Friends is set in New Jersey, it was filmed in Canada and L.A. In its defense, the diner scene could've passed for Holsten's, the cafe you might remember as the setting of the final moments of The Sopranos series finale.

Just Friends has gotten even better with age. Upon its release, I don't remember many reviewers praising the fact that the film was intentionally reminiscent of a Zucker Bros. comedy. Hell, they even cast Airplane's Julie Haggerty as Brander's mom.

Even though it's a romcom, the emphasis is on the com, so this is one that guys could swallow. Kind of like Samantha James likes to swallow her toothpaste. Yes, I will go so far as to say that Ana Faris is at her funniest as she embodies the mind numbing, possibly lobotomized pop star Samantha James. If you haven't seen this, shame on you, let me sing you a few bars of James' new song "Forgiveness..."

If you graduated high school anytime in the '90s, this movie is perfect for you during Christmas time. Just Friends comes from the director of Cruel Intentions 2 and the lesser known Cruel Intentions 1. After the film you may wonder why you didn't wait in line overnight at the theater for the premiere back in '05. Watch the film and you'll be shooting for the stars, because judging by its Rotten Tomatoes audience rating of 73%, Just Friends is a solid C, but I grade on a laughter curve and the line "God I want to lick your skin off" bumps it up to a high B.

BONUS supplement:

10 WAYS TO STAY OUT OF THE FRIEND ZONE as we learned from Chris Brander

We've all been there. You like someone and they like you back, "but only as friends." Luckily, your friendly neighborhood Sexy Armpit decided to drop some wisdom from fellow Jerseyan Chris Brander. Here are some of his personal tips.

10. If a girl doesn't care if you see her underwear that doesn't necessarily mean she wants you. She might just think of you as a non-threatening somewhat effeminate male friend.
9. NO DAY DATES. And never "do lunch."
8. No awkward Body Shakes. Going in for a direct kiss on the lips will make your intentions known and it won't make her lunch want to escape her body faster.
7. Don't ever, by any means whatsoever, offer to watch The Notebook with the object of your desire or this will spell certain doom.
6. Don't turn your back on your home state. Appropriately, Brander quotes from Springsteen's "Thunder Road," as he rides away from the grad party on his bike, "It's a town full of losers and I'm pulling out of here to win." It may not sound like it has anything to do with dating, but this applies exclusively when you move out of your home state and you come back to find out that your high school crush is single. It's all about karma. All of a sudden Jersey ain't looking 's bad, huh? Oh and don't fly all the way home to LA until you've officially made it abundantly clear that you want to be more than friends. Otherwise you will have to pay for airfare to L.A and then back to Jersey again like they would do in some ridiculous holiday romcom. #meta
5. Don't go overboard flaunting the bimbo pop star you're trying to lure in for your boss. This move might make you look cool to your brother and your guy friends, but ultimately it will backfire, and she'll just wind up thinking you're a complete dick.
4. Don't go back to being your regular pansy self. She won't buy it. As Garth Algar once stated so eloquently: "Live in The Now!"
3. Retainers are unattractive. Reserve them for sleepy time.
2. Put down the snow globes...and whatever else you collected when you were 12. Ah, who am I kidding? It's completely impossible for me to abide by this. I actually don't own anything that wasn't something a kid would've had in their toy box in 1985. Presently, my living room has a giant Castle Grayskull in it. Screw it, tell her all about your snowglobe fixation.
1. Never let her see you sweat, or have a little hissy fit/hand puppet freak out in your Porsche. OK, that goes for any type of car. In my case, it would be 1995 Chevy Corsica. Tantrums where you obnoxiously act out embarrassing conversations via hand puppets are much less impressive inside a Chevy Corsica, trust me. Most girls will give you a pass if you're have a mental breakdown while in the driver's side of a Porsche.

 - Jay Amabile


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