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My Best Friend’s Girl Jerks Laughter Off

My Best Friend’s Girl
Directed by Howard Deutch
Written by Jordan Cahan
Lionsgate, 2008

Usually, those behind the production of trailers find the best aspects of any movie to market them better, which can often prove disappointing when the film fails to deliver.  I put My Best Friend’s Girl in that Hancock territory, where the trailers feature a good idea that promises lots of fun but the film goes in mostly a different direction.  Guys can’t be assholes forever, I suppose, even if that’s the main draw.

Dane Cook plays Tank Turner, a man who is paid by other jerks to go out with their ex-girlfriends who have just dumped them to show that there are even bigger jerks out there, thereby making them want to come back.  We see him in action in a fairly amusing Memento-ish sequence at the beginning with a girl named Rachel (Diora Baird), and therein lies the movie’s best chance to distinguish itself before it slides into the exact structure of every other romantic comedy.

Tank’s best friend is Dustin (Jason Biggs, in his usual poor bastard nice guy role), who has gotten a little over-zealous with the girl he’s been seeing, Alexis (Kate Hudson), who wants a bit of a break.  Her best friend Ami (Lizzy Caplan) suggests that Alexis do lots of guys before settling into a relationship, and at the same time, Dustin wants Tank to do his thing with Alexis, which proves to be a bad combination.  No matter how much of a dick Tank is, Alexis, who gets loaded up before the date, isn’t fleeing like all the other girls usually do when going on a Tank date.  Tank actually begins to like her, and before you know it, he becomes Alexis’ frequent booty call.  Dustin knows she’s seeing somebody, just not who.  We all know where that eventually leads.

So Tank loses his best friend, starts falling in love with Alexis, and begins to get the worst advice imaginable from his father (Alec Baldwin), a slimy womanizer himself.  His father’s advice leads to the sequence of events all romantic comedies must have in order to join the club.

The film’s plotting just robs it of laughs.  Tank is a cad, but of course he has a soft side (as seen by him crying at the end of Ghost near the beginning of the movie).  But more interesting, and with a better chance for laughs, would have been if the apparent soft side either came late into the movie or not at all.  In the attempt to appeal to everyone possible by making him softer, we are then force-fed that all-too-familiar storyline of boy meets girl…and you know the rest.

Of course, there is only so much you can do with Tank being a jerk the whole movie, at least with the filmmakers we have here (Pretty in Pink director Deutch has done almost every generic comedy imaginable since that debut).  Even in Tank’s jerky moments, the laughs many times are “insert random asshole moment here.”  With some cultivation, this could have been very good, but it falls well short.

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