Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

My Best Friend's Girl

Illustration for article titled My Best Friend's Girl

Dane Cook plays a smug jerk in the dismal comedy My Best Friend's Girl. Strike that: He's only acting like a smug jerk as part of a side job where other guys hire him to be the "rebound guy" for their ex-girlfriends. Then he behaves so repulsively that the women go running back to their former flames. Except that under the layers of Cook's faux-smug jerk persona, there may well be a genuine tool. If a guy makes his livelihood pretending to be a pig, then it may be difficult for him to stop oinking when he's off the clock. The issue gets so confusing that Kate Hudson, in a mortifying turn, goes off on a monologue in which she spews the word "asshole" about a dozen times in half a minute. Hey, if it looks and smells like one…

The "rebound guy" concept isn't all that different from the gimmick in Cook's last vehicle, the even lousier Good Luck Chuck: In both films, women use him as a springboard into more meaningful relationships, only in My Best Friend's Girl, he makes a little money for being officious. (Not unlike in Cook's arena shows, come to think of it.) When Hudson dumps Cook's socially inept best friend Jason Biggs, however, Cook is willing to work his anti-magic pro bono. But hard as Cook tries to offend Hudson on their date, she sees through his antics and throws them right back in his face, which of course inevitably leads to some romantic sparks. Does he screw over his buddy, or deny himself the vulgar woman of his dreams?

Of course, there's always the third option, the one in which Cook gets everything he wants and comes out smelling like a rose. In order for My Best Friend's Girl to work at all, it needs a leading man with the charisma to suggest the soulful, lovelorn gentleman behind the crude serial womanizer. And it has one in Alec Baldwin, who's far better than the movie deserves as Cook's father, a skirt-chasing women's-studies professor who taught his son every sleazy trick he knows. The depth of Baldwin's misogyny is supposed to hold Cook's redeeming qualities in sharp relief, but the gambit backfires: Baldwin comes off as a bruised lothario, eternally incapable of getting over his wife's passing, while Cook, as usual, looks like a stand-up trying desperately to shoehorn his routine into a palatable rom-com hero. Good luck, Chuck.