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  My Best Friend's Girl

Starring: Dane Cook, Kate Hudson, Jason Biggs, Alec Baldwin, Lizzy Caplan

Directed by: Howard Deutch

Produced by: Adam Herz, Doug Johnson, Gregory Lessans, John Shader, Dane Cook, et. al

Written by: Jordan Cahan

Distributor: Lionsgate


     You can say what you want about Dane Cook’s comedic-chops—there are certainly a few critical observations I could make about his taste in humor—but there’s no denying that the actor has, in a mere two pictures, developed a unique and marketable brand out of his career. Between Good Luck Chuck and My Best Friend’s Girl, Cook has starred in a pair of films that boasts a rare blend of standard romantic-comedy trappings for women and gross-out humor for men. While the former film wasn’t good enough to earn the high gross that Cook’s sub-genre may be capable of garnering and this new one isn’t substantially better, I can’t help but sense that their star has a bright future ahead of himself in Hollywood. If he works with a writer and a director who understand his talents and how they appeal to date-moviegoers of both sexes, Cook will have a bona fide hit on his hands sometime soon. That hit is not My Best Friend’s Girl, but one could surely do worse than the picture as far as airy mainstream cinema goes.

     In the positive-traits column, My Best Friend’s Girl notably does the same thing right that Good Luck Chuck did: treat sex in an effectively frank manner. This approach lends itself to many naturally clever and funny moments. My Best Friend’s Girl accomplishes the task in a superior way to its predecessor, too; whereas the earlier Cook film was slapsticky and obnoxious in its exploration of human sexuality thanks to screenwriter Josh Stolberg’s cartoonish characters and plot, this one feels less gimmicky and more affable. Good Luck Chuck trivialized the sex-life of Cook’s main character (if you remember, women vied to sleep with him because they would then be guaranteed to later magically find their true soul-mate). My Best Friend’s Girl, on the other hand, goes for a more grounded approach within a similar mold. Cook plays Tank, a carefree guy who fellow males hire to be their recent-ex’s awful “rebound date”. The goal: Tank will treat the women so awfully that they’ll have no choice but to realize what good guys their old boyfriends (Tank’s clientele) really were and get back together with them.

     One of Tank’s clients is also his roommate and pal, Dustin (Jason Biggs). Dustin wants nothing more but to get his on-again-off-again girlfriend Alexis (Kate Hudson) to commit to him despite his own skewed ideas of commitment. “You want to move in together? We haven’t even had sex yet!” she boisterously responds to his proposition that they shack-up. The results, as any cynical viewer might expect, are disastrous: Tank and Alexis end up actually falling in love, leaving Tank with no choice but to sneak around with Alexis and secretly betray his friend.

     The cast is charming. Cook avoids his sometimes-annoying presence, providing further evidence that his developing brand will become successful. Hudson is as attractive as ever in the movie—well, maybe she was a little more enticing in Fool’s Gold when she was prowling around in a bikini—and charms from the second she first appears onscreen. It’s nice to see that Biggs hasn’t died since American Wedding, too. And Alec Baldwin turns in a strong supporting performance that lends itself to the funniest character in the movie: Tank’s sex-hungry women’s studies professor of a father.

     To a certain extent, I’m misleading you, the reader, in my comments thus far. Writing this piece, I seem to have forged an admiration for the movie that is based more on its selling-potential than its overall quality. Yes, I like My Best Friend’s Girl’s attitude towards sex and I like its cast, but when have ever I let two elements I enjoy about an otherwise-mediocre picture dominate the body of a review? I can’t think of a single separate instance.

     So I might as well conclude by discussing the aspects of My Best Friend’s Girl I didn’t like, which are indeed abundant as my two-bucket rating would indicate. (For the record, I only recommend the picture for DVD-viewing because there are frankly at least three better date-movie comedies in release right now.) Most prominent among said aspects is the fact that the picture adheres to nearly every plot-convention typical of a romantic-comedy, making for the most dryly uninvolving narrative I’ve seen all year. The only part of the equation that is even less interesting is the cast of the characters; while convincingly portrayed by likable actors and saved by their often-witty candor, these people represent nothing more than cookie-cutter Hollywood creations. And don’t even get me started on how insipid Howard Deutch’s direction is; thanks to his wobbly hand, the movie’s pacing is cumbersome and the comedic-timing of the actors and the material is often destroyed by technical incompetence.

    All told, My Best Friend’s Girl may not be anything special in and of itself, much as I notice its potential. Nonetheless, watch out for that Cook. Many critics, myself included, may have written him off back when the putrid likes of Waiting… and Employee of the Month found their ways onto cinema-screens. But I think the guy is onto something; whether that something will be as artistically satisfying as it is monetarily profitable remains the only variable left to be pondered.

-Danny Baldwin, Bucket Reviews

Review Published on: 9.19.2008

Screened on: 9.15.2008 at the ArcLight Cinerama Dome Premiere in Hollywood, CA


My Best Friend's Girl is rated R and runs 103 minutes.

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