"Just Friends" movie was a little unrealistic, but still very good
My wife Christine and I love to watch movies together and we try to do so at least once a week either at the theater or by watching one from our DVD collection which numbers in the hundreds now. We absolutely love pulling out a movie and getting transported into the fantasy worlds they take us to when we need a break from the real world.
Last year, a new movie entitled "Just Friends" starring Ryan Reynolds and Amy Smart was being advertised in the theaters and I was immediately drawn to it because the main character was an obese person in high school who came back home ten years later after losing a whole lotta weight. Naturally this theme appeals to me since I have lost a lot of weight since high school as well and I can't wait for my 20-year high school reunion in 2009.
I blogged about this movie and the theme that Hollywood seems to be trying to reach the obese with movies like this. Perhaps the hope that someone who was obese in high school could actually have an opportunity to connect with an old crush is compelling enough for people to follow, although the reality of the situation is that it would probably never happen. Who really knows?
Last night on my "date night" with my wife Christine, we were FINALLY able to see this movie for the very first time. I will not bore you with the plot details and you can read about them here. However, it is a rather simple premise: boy is fat, is the friend of a beautiful girl, wants to be more than that, runs away in an embarrassing tizzy when his real feelings come out, loses a lot of weight, comes back to win the love of the woman he always wanted. That's the movie plot in a nutshell.
I was looking forward to the movie despite the fact that I was sure it would offer the typical fat cliches. And it did. Dorky fat person hangs out with nerd-type friends and allows the jock-types to push them around. Yadda yadda yadda. We've seen and heard all of this so many times before it really has gotten old (especially since most of these stereotypes are not true!).
We've seen it all before, but there were some intriguing twists to this movie that were sometimes strange, sometimes surprising to me because of how out-of-place they seemed in a movie like this. Before you go contacting me using the "it's only a movie" argument against me, I know, I KNOW. But I can't help but ask some very obvious questions about the details in this movie that I think make it difficult to swallow at times, despite the fact that I enjoyed watching it.
1. How realistic is it that "the hottest girl in school" would hang out and be friends with "the fattest guy in school?"
This caught my attention right away at the beginning of the movie. Here is the girl that every guy in school wishes he could be with and she's best friends with the fat guy. Say what?! When has this EVER happened? The Jamie Palamino character is seen bouncing up and down on her bed excited about graduation while alone with the obese guy Chris Bender who secretly has a crush on her and desperately wants to tell her how he really feels. Only in a movie would a man that size ever have the opporutnity to get that close to a girl like that in high school. Maybe I'm wrong about this, but I don't see the captain of the cheerleading squad embracing as a friend someone who is essentially an outcast by the rest of the school no matter how "sensitive" he is. She would be ribbed and ridiculed way too much by her "cool" friends to ever keep that relationship alive. Am I right? It could possibly happen, but most likely it would not.
2. Why isn't "the hottest girl in school" married already ten years after high school?
Okay, this was also puzzling to me. Here is this beautiful girl who for all intents and purposes could choose whoever she wants to be with (although she made some poor choices in high school according to the storyline) and she isn't married or even dating anyone? In the real world, that would be pretty far-fetched to me. Although several suitors line up in the movie in an attempt to woo her, I still find it hard to believe that at the age of 28 or so she would not have already walked the aisle and gotten married. They never really developed her character enough to find out WHY she wasn't married yet, although at the end of the movie she says her dream over the next ten years was to get married and have kids. Guess who she ended up with? No big surprise there. :)
3. Why are fat people always portrayed as so gay-sounding and looking?
The main character in "Just Friends" is Chris Brander
While I am sure he was simply following the directions of his director, I was completely turned off by how Ryan Reynolds portrayed Chris Brander when he was in the fat suit. The slightly-slurred speech and elongated ends of words made him sound so freakin' gay. What's up with that? Even when I weighed 410 pounds, I was NEVER even remotely gay. Yes, it is possible for a fat man to be a manly man, believe it or not!
Even worse was the fact that they made the Chris Brander character a CHEERLEADER with his best friend Jamie, aka "the hottest girl in school." What fat person, man or woman, do you EVER remember being a cheerleader in high school? Anyone? ANYONE? That's right, THEY WEREN'T! That was so crazy to see him jumping up and down in a cheerleader outfit!
While we're on how fat people are portrayed in this movie, what's up with being pushed over by jocks? I was bigger than most of the athletes in high school, so they really never messed with me based on my size. Sure I got teased, but I don't think any of them would have ever just pushed me away in the middle of a conversation with someone like the Chris Brander character was. They probably couldn't do that since I weighed so much!
Finally, all former fat people who have lost weight haven't become cynical about how people treated them in the past. I admit it is has been hard to see some people treat me differently now that I am not obese anymore, but for the most part I am the same man I was nearly 200 pounds ago and feel no grudges towards anyone. We're not all out to seek revenge on the world!
4. Did the Chris Brander character lose weight by livin' la vida low-carb?
This was another interesting thing about this movie that should be an attractive draw for people who are following a low-carb lifestyle. While they never explicitly say HOW the Chris Brander character lost weight, we get some clues from the movie. During one scene with his old high school crush while sitting in the diner they always went to ten years previously, the waitress brings out "the usual" order that both of them always had to eat. For her it was a grilled cheese sandwich and French fries and for him it was chocolate chip pancakes piled about six high! Yikes!
He took one look at that plate of pancakes and said, "I can't eat that, I haven't had sugar in ten years." The girl gets mad and says she will eat them and he can have her grilled cheese and fries instead. He politely declines and says he will enjoy his glass of water. Hmmm, no sugar, no pancakes, no bread, no fries, with water -- sounds like livin' la vida low-carb to me!
One more comment: While I thought it was insensitive of the Jamie character to get mad that he wouldn't eat the pancakes, it just goes to show that skinny people don't know how hard it is to keep the weight off for the rest of your life after you've been obese at some point. You can NEVER let your guard down and fall back into old habits again. NEVER!!!
5. Do famous people secretly lower their intake of carbs to stay thin?
One of the funniest parts of "Just Friends" was the airhead, Jessica Simpson-like character played by Anna Faris. She was a riot to watch and provided some extra comic relief throughout the movie to keep it, well, interesting to say the least. One point in the movie she is offered some potato chips and other snacks to satisfy her hunger and she exclaims, "I can't have those, they have too many carbs!" Hey, hey, hey, what do you know? She's shunning carbs ostensiblity because overconsuming them can lead to weight gain which would be bad for her image. WOW, how about that? It makes you wonder how many real-life pop divas and entertainment stars keep their weight managed watching their carbs? Hmmmm? I bet it's a bunch although they'd never admit to being on the Atkins diet or on low-carb.
All in all, I would have to say that "Just Friends" was just delightful and would make for an excellent movie for you to watch. How many more movies like this are we going to see in the coming years as Hollywood continues to try to reach the obese?