September 25, 2008

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My Best Friend’s Girl (R)
Kate Hudson drags a fingernail of irritating cuteness across the blackboard of my very last nerve in My Best Friend’s Girl, a wacky romantic comedy that tries to obscure its aggressive mediocrity with lots and lots of dirty talk.

Tank (Dane Cook) is a professional dirty talker. He is paid by lousy boyfriends to act even lousier, making the cheating or emotionally cruel lout look like a prince in comparison. Dustin (Jason Biggs) is the opposite of this. He is far too nice to Alexis (Kate Hudson), the girl whom he frightens away by telling that he loves her after only a handful of dates. When she understandably tries to give him the “friends” speech, Dustin turns to Tank, his roommate and sort-of cousin. Tank arranges a “meet-cute” and gets Alexis’ phone number and then proceeds to take her on the worst date of her life.

Or so he thinks.

But Alexis has inadvertently gotten drunk before their date and, desperate to break out of the dating-nice-guys mold, matches Tank’s crudeness with her own desire to be reckless. Naturally, this surprise turnabout hits Tank like Cupid’s arrow and soon he finds himself on the other end of the booty call.

My Best Friend’s Girl is mostly exactly what it sounds like — a low-rent sitcom populated with stock characters: the basically good-girl female lead looking for “experiences,” the boorish lead with a hidden heart, the nice guy, the female lead’s wacky friend. What’s surprising are the handful of instances where it seems to want to play with its formula. Tank talks about sucking girls in by playing on their romantic-comedy-fed expectations of a cutesy meeting. The idea of using the media-crafted female fantasies to manipulate women has entertaining potential, particularly if on the other side are characters looking to shake off the fantasy of the perfect guy and just get out and have fun. But after presenting this idea, the movie doesn’t really do anything with it. There’s no creative play on expectations, no smart parody. Where this movie’s brain should be you find only the “comedy” of Cook exaggerating loutish behavior and the “shocking” idea that a woman might just like a guy for the sex. And swearing, lots of gratuitous swearing. Swearing that is neither funny nor particularly well used — it’s like listening to your mom swear or maybe to a kid, using the words for the first time in hopes of creating some shock value.

But My Best Friend’s Girl isn’t shocking. It simply recycles the formula it seems to want us to think it’s riffing on and regurgitates back an unappealing mess. D

Rated R for strong language and sexual content throughout, including graphic dialogue and some nudity. Directed by Howard Deutch and written by Jordan Cahan, My Best Friend’s Girl is an hour and 41 minutes long and is distributed by Lionsgate