September 21, 2008

Movie Review: My Best Friend's Girl

mybestfriendsgirl1_largeWhen I hear the words "my best friend's girl" I do not want to think about Dane Cook. I do not want that face associated with those words at all. I want my thoughts to travel to the tune by The Cars that uses those words as its song title. However, with the emergence of this comedy, that may be a little tougher than it used to be. Don't you hate it when undesirables stake a claim to something that really isn't there? Of course, I do not believe that this film will enter the mainstream consciousness to the point of being the first notable reference for these words, but the possibility is there. Another example of this appropriation of a term that became twisted to the point of not being able to be used for its original purpose is the X rating. It went from being associated with Midnight Cowboy to being associated with Deep Throat. Sure, I may be overreacting, but sometimes things have a habit of going to unintended places. But I digress.

mybestfriendsgirlgIt was just about one year ago that Dane Cook's last starring vehicle hit the big screen, Good Luck Chuck. In that film Cook played the titular Chuck, a cursed man who was destined to never find true love and any woman that did sleep with him would then go on to find her true love and go on to marry the next man they slept with. This leads to mucho meaningless sex and trouble when he does find a girl that he cares about (Jessica Alba). It was not a good movie, mistaking crassness for comedy and believing that Cook is a suitable leading man.

What does this have to do with My Best Friend's Girl? Simple, this might just as well be Good Luck Chuck Part II.

In this film Dane Cook is Tank, customer service representative by day and bad date giver by night. You see, Tank is hired by jilted men who wish to get their beloved back in their lives. Once hired, Tank takes the girl on the worst date of their lives, which sends them running back into the arms of their prior boyfriend. As you can see, this is a just a twist on Chuck. In both cases Cook plays a guy who is pivotal in getting loving couples together, just the method has been changed, and like the prior film, crassness is seen as an replacement for comedy; although, to its credit, this movie does offer up a good deal of genuine laughers.

mybestfriendsgirleThe plot gets underway when Dustin (Jason Biggs), Tank's roommate and longtime friend, comes on a little strong with his current girlfriend, Alexis (Kate Hudson). Dustin cannot bear to live without her, so he hires Tank to step in and work his magic. Conflict arises when Tank and Alexis click, leaving Dustin out in the cold.

If you cannot see where this is going, you have not seen enough romantic comedies. Typing that is rather funny, seeing as early on it looked like this film was seeking to subvert the cliches of the rom-com. This potential subversion is best shown in a scene where Tank uses the phrase "meet-cute" and talks about its meaning within the rom-com universe. I was misled into thinking, at this point, that this was leading to something just a little bit different. However, before long the film had slipped back into the standards of the genre; in addition to the crassness making this more of a rom-com for guys, but a rom-com nonetheless.

mybestfriendsgirlbI will not lie and say that the movie is not funny. There are some lines and scenes that are definitely hilarious, I was still caught off-guard by the great mini-wheat line that was in the trailer. The problem is that all the funny moments are lines and scenes, not the movie, which is a significant point. When taken in bits and pieces, you will find yourself helpless in its ability to make you laugh. When you step back and take a look at the big picture you will likely be at a loss as to why you should care about the story.

The writing, by first-timer Jordan Cahan, is not all that strong. Take the Jason Biggs character, for example, this could have been played by anyone and the deeper into the story we get, the increasingly irrelevant. I actually felt bad for Biggs, as an actor, as he just gets lost in the larger presence of Cook. It is not only in the Biggs character, but overall, the story is just mind numbingly weak. At the core of My Best Friend's Girl is a high concept that fails to ignite any genuine emotion for the characters. Perhaps I have been spoiled by the output from the Judd Apatow camp and the way they inject heart and a palpable reality in their films.

Bottomline. Sporadically funny, but never coming together into a cohesive film. My Best Friend's Girl plays like a series of skits linked together by the slimmest of plot threads. The performances are not all that special and Howard Deutch's direction is rather plain (he's come a long way from the John Hughes' screenplays he directed earlier in his career). Unless you really like Cook, you can safely pass on this, unless you like sporadic laughter.

Very Mildly Recommended.


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