Love the Hard Way
My Best Friend's Girl offers further proof that Dane Cook keeps going the wrong way toward winning over moviegoers. His stand-up act may have the frat boy demographic under lock and key, but he can play a loutish jerk only so many times before audiences start asking him to do something different. Anyone hoping My Best Friend's Girl would break the trend will walk away sorely disappointed, for Cook rehashes the same character all over again, and the movie ends up being every bit as crass and yawn inducing as Good Luck Chuck and Employee of the Month.
Cook portrays Tank, a man who specializes in what his friends refer to as "emotional terrorism." As the go-to guy for any jilted boyfriend who wants to get back with his significant other, he's hired to take the lady in question on a date from hell -- one designed to make her run back into her ex's arms at the end of the night. Tank's roommate and best friend Dustin (Jason Biggs) is madly in love with his fetching co-worker Alexis (Kate Hudson), but when she rebuffs his affections, he calls upon Tank to work his magic. However, because Alexis comes to the big date three sheets to the wind, she's immune to all of Tank's trickery. To make matters worse, the two end up seeing a lot more of each other through a series of late-night trysts, while Dustin tries in vain to woo Alexis. The final nail in the coffin comes when Tank starts to develop true romantic feelings for Alexis, which forces him to choose between remaining the professional heartbreaker or being Mr. Nice Guy for once in his life.
What disappointed me about My Best Friend's Girl (as opposed to flat-out hating Cook's prior vehicles) is how great it could have been. The makings of a great dark comedy are here, an anti-romance in which everything the boorish protagonist does to repel the leading lady only brings them closer together. Instead, director Howard Deutch (of Pretty in Pink fame and The Whole Ten Yards infamy) mashes together cursing like sailors and gratuitous sex humor, then casts a generally unlikable mood across the whole production. A successful black comedy never betrays its original intention nor does it allow the endearingly outrageous characters to become a bunch of jerks. My Best Friend's Girl breaks both of these rules.
This movie tries to have its cake and eat it too. All of the main characters have virtually unsalvageable personal lives, so trying to slap a typical Hollywood ending on the whole mess fails to work. Not once do you care about anything that happens to anyone in My Best Friend's Girl. It's not so much the fault of the actors, whose performances are far from awful. Cook, for example, displays a healthy amount of devious charisma. The blame lies squarely with a rotten script that paints all of the characters with a cartoonish degree of meanness. Tank, the king of all jerks, doesn't do anything to earn the audience's sympathy when it comes time for him to shape up. Dustin is a bona fide creep whose attempts to win Alexis' love are more than a little stalkerish, and Alexis comes across most of the time as a vain, self-centered harpy who wouldn't know the meaning of true love if it crashed into her living room. Alec Baldwin, as Tank's even more promiscous father, emerges as the only deliciously dark character here.
Mr. Brooks aside, Dane Cook films are starting to become as reliably awful as Uwe Boll movies. Sadly, the lame and unremarkable My Best Friend's Girl is no exception.
MY RATING: * 1/2 (out of ****)
(Released by Lionsgate and rated "R" for strong language and sexual content throughout, including graphic dialogue and some nudity.)