At a high school graduation party in 1995, Chris Brander finally confesses his love to his best friend, Jamie Palamino. Not only does the moment result in the overweight teen being humiliated in front of all the cool kids, Jamie tells him that she loves him too ... like a brother.
The sensitive Chris flees from his New Jersey hometown and winds up 10 years later as a slimmed down, shallow, womanizing L.A. record exec with a strategy for avoiding the “friendship zone” in relationships with the opposite sex. He either beds them or walks away. Or he beds them and then walks away.
Things go awry when Chris’ boss decides he wants to sign Samantha James, an empty-headed diva/pin-up model, to a record contract. Since Chris dated her briefly, he’s assigned to woo her into the deal. While escorting her to Paris to help her write songs, a problem with the plane lands the pair in New Jersey at Christmastime near the hometown Chris hasn’t seen since high school.
Soon, Chris is sleeping in his old room, slap fighting with his younger brother, and again pining for Jamie. In spite of his new look, big career and money, he faces competition from Dusty Dinkleman, another high school loser who liked Jamie. And he’s got to keep Samantha occupied until he can figure out how to get Jamie to see him as more than just a friend.
[Spoiler Warning] The film saves its brief positive element for the end, but the obvious message here provides just enough moral to give this very crude film some unlikely sweetness. When finally given the opportunity to sleep with Jamie, Chris disappoints himself (and her) by passing it up for fear of losing her friendship. In a burst of unwelcome maturity, Chris realizes he wants more than just a physical relationship with Jamie. And he wants more than just to be her friend. He wants—gasp!—both friendship and true love (and sex). In fact, he wants to marry her (eventually).
A lying, manipulative, insincere character asks at a Christmas concert in a church, “Do you want to join us in a carol to celebrate the birth of our Lord?” A Christmas song mentioning the worship of Jesus plays repeatedly on the soundtrack.
Although nobody in the course of the film ever ends up having sex, Just Friends is full of sexual situations and crude sexual comments, far too many to completely catalog here. Examples: Samantha is famous for posing for a poster that features her with whipped cream and cherries on her breasts preparing to eat a chocolate-covered banana. Upon reuniting with Chris, she immediately tackles him, French-kisses him obnoxiously, says she wants to “lick his skin off,” and unzips and lowers his pants for oral sex before being distracted by something else. Later, she practically fondles him while meeting his mom, and she aggressively kisses a man and a woman on the lips as a greeting. Still later, out of boredom, she seduces Chris’ eager 18-year-old brother by complaining she hasn’t had sex in “forever” and disrobing for him.
In high school, oblivious to the affect it has on Chris, Jamie carelessly flashes her underwear and buries her face low on his stomach to tickle him. A drunk jock at the same party asks if he can “do her later.” Ten years on, one of Chris’ many sexual conquests breaks up with him after admitting “the sex is great,” but he doesn’t take her seriously. He immediately hooks up with another woman who witnesses the exchange.
Comments are made throughout the film about Chris being “gay” or “homo” for not “boinking” Jamie. After remarking that the movie they’re watching is “gay,” Chris sees two men in the theater kissing. Dusty makes out with a nurse. Jamie is seen in a revealing shirt before hopping into bed with Chris. Masturbation is mentioned.
Some of the slapstick violence is extreme, but it’s played for laughs and nobody gets really hurt. Samantha is especially aggressive with Chris, both sexually and in anger. Chris also regularly shoves and drags her around. Chris and his brother slap-fight mercilessly in every scene together, as the older brother mostly beats up his younger, extremely obnoxious sibling.
In an attempt to show off his hockey skills, Chris knocks down several children and ends up bloodying his own mouth with the puck. While strapped to a stretcher, he is launched down a sled run, landing face first on the ice. Samantha gets zapped with a stun gun, launching her over a railing. Later, she Tasers Chris in the groin, an area abused throughout the film. Jamie gets in on the action by slapping and punching Chris during a fight.
An enormous Christmas display is yanked apart by a speeding car, setting most of it on fire, and comically launching flaming reindeer and Santas in every direction.
Crude or Profane Language
Just Friends explores the edges of its PG-13 rating with copious amounts of language both crude and profane. In addition to more than 20 uses of God’s and Jesus’ names for swearing, the s-word is heard a half-dozen times, “a--“ more than a dozen times (mostly combined with “hole”) and “b--ch” around 10 times. The f-word is begun (but not finished) three times.
A group of children enjoy calling Chris “the suckster” over and over. One child utters the s-word just before the credits roll. There are frequent uses of slang words for sex, masturbation, and parts of the male and female anatomy.
Drug and Alcohol Content
Jamie works at a bar. Chris gets drunk when it looks like things won’t work out with Jamie. A graduation party that kicks off the film features teens drinking, and some appear drunk.
Other Negative Elements
Chris is cruelly mocked for his weight in high school and derisive comments are made about being overweight throughout the film.
Just Friends does manage to be funny at times. And the likable cast deliver intentionally ridiculous, over-the-top performances. So if it gets some buzz, teens, especially, might be drawn to the story of a high school loser becoming a “winner” and getting another chance at the girl.
But as the ancient Roman orator Quintilian said, “That laughter costs too much which is purchased by the sacrifice of decency.” Quintilian would have hated this movie and probably asked his teens to skip it.