Even a bracing mean streak can't save this gross-out romantic comedy from its lazy mess of a script, a string of slapstick gags that demand arbitrary, stupid and out-of-character behavior from all concerned. Fat, goofy Chris Brander (Ryan Reynolds) squandered his youth pining for the prettiest, most popular girl in his small-town New Jersey high school, cheerleader Jamie Palamino (Amy Smart). Not that Jamie ignored him or treated him badly — they were best friends, but he wanted more. Chris' clumsy graduation-night attempt to declare his true feelings results in monumental public humiliation. He flees to Los Angeles where 10 years later he's a slimmed-down, buffed-up music-industry executive and a sleekly accessorized heartbreaker. The new Chris' ruthless rules of engagement — no daytime dates, no sensitive crap, mandatory kiss before parting — are predicated on a single objective: to stay out of the dreaded "friend zone," because once a woman sees you as a confidante, you will never, ever score. As the holidays approach, Chris is assigned to persuade oversexed celebutante Samantha James (Anna Faris) to sign with his label. She's also a psychotic she-devil whose yen for Chris is the stuff of restraining orders, and her antics strand them in New Jersey, where they descend on Chris' ditzy mom (Julie Hagerty) and sullen brother (Christopher Marquette). Jamie is still in town, presenting Chris with a golden opportunity to rewrite the past. But he reverts to his goofball self in Jamie's presence, and his awkwardness now comes with an ugly overlay of L.A. smarminess that makes him look like a world-class jerk. Worse, another old classmate reappears on the scene: High-school pizza-face-turned-sensitive-yet-edgy-musician Dusty Dinkleman (Chris Klein), whose efforts to win Jamie's heart go much more smoothly. While the situation is promising, screenwriter Adam "Tex" Davis consistently sacrifices character for a quick joke, rewriting Jamie and Chris from scene to scene to facilitate the gags. Jamie might be a girl next door who has bad luck with men, but she could also be a slut who slept with everyone but Chris, whom she deliberately teased and tormented. Sometimes Chris is a clueless idiot, other times he's a schemer and still others he's a wounded nice guy hiding behind a slickster facade. Ironically, Faris' Samantha is the most convincing personality in the mix: She's a grotesque caricature of Courtney Love by way of Nancy Spungen, a vulgar, selfish monster of unbridled id, but you always know where she's coming from.
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- Released: 2005
- Rating: PG-13
- Review: Even a bracing mean streak can't save this gross-out romantic comedy from its lazy mess of a script, a string of slapstick gags that demand arbitrary, stupid and out-of-character behavior from all concerned. Fat, goofy Chris Brander (Ryan Reynolds) squande… (more)