Hard to believe it’s been 16 years since Harry met Sally and told her all that 1980s guff about the impossibility of platonic relationships between men and women. In the cheerily clean and notably bright teen comedy Just Friends, Chris (Ryan Reynolds, a rising pro at playing cute/funny) meets Jamie (Amy Smart, likewise) and adores her, yet he can’t escape from her ”friend zone” to become boyfriend material. He’s an overweight dweeb in New Jersey high school hell, circa the 1990s; she’s a Miss Popularity who loves Chris — like a brother.
The movie, directed by Cruel Intentions‘ Roger Kumble from a script by Adam ”Tex” Davis, argues on behalf of the Darwinian theory that all of life imitates high school: Ten years later, Chris is a svelte, babe-slaying record-biz success in L.A. who reverts to dweebhood when he’s back around Jamie. But the argument is only halfhearted. Just Friends is much more interested in — and hilarious about — the small nostalgias of suburbia. (Not for nothing does the quintessential suburban-nostalgia band Fountains of Wayne contribute a tune.) And for added value, there’s a running joke about the movie The Notebook that the South Park guys only wish they had written.