Whether or not one is able to find humor in Dane Cook’s spastic white-boy antics, it is now clear that the man was born to play the role of the asinine romantic. As cynical a purportedly feel-good romantic comedy has ever been (enough to make Closer feel almost warm and embracing by comparison), My Best Friend’s Girl fits the devilish charms of its leading man like a customized glove—or rather, would appear to. Misguided and indecisive, Howard Deutsch’s film doesn’t know what to do with the pent-up sexual energy of its cast, Cahan’s script first dabbling in the waters of anti-romantic black comedy before shifting every one of its gears in preference of something more cuddly and whitewashed.
Cook plays Tank, a self-employed “emotional terrorist” who, at the request of desperate, recently-dumped men, takes their recently single exes on the worst date of their lives; from his rampant misogyny and crude demeanor to his repulsive dining habits, it’s enough to ensure their immediate flight from the dating crowd back into the arms of their safe, if predictable, significant others. There’s something refreshingly downbeat about this scenario, one that acknowledges the generally accepted lack of altruism in Western perceptions of romance and at times seems ready to undertake some kind of scathing, self-aware genre deconstruction. Instead bringing to mind a dog chasing itself, it’s a premise that should have been further explored before a genre-hopping turn of events sees Tank meet his match in the form of his best friend Dustin’s (Jason Bigg) ex Alexis (Kate Hudson), a “serial monogamist” who wants to live a little before settling down and is far too smart to not see through Tank’s faux-asshole performance.
Moving dutifully through the love-triangle-pity motions before jettisoning Bigg’s character almost completely—only to cruelly and manipulatively bring him back in the end so as to justify a new course of action—My Best Friend’s Girl ultimately fails to measure up to its own standards, forgoing the genuinely selfish motivations of its characters for an overly plotted bowtie conclusion, one that runs at least 20 minutes too long and, with the exception of a deliciously against-the-current performance by Alec Baldwin (as Tank’s adulterous and incessantly horny father), commits that most unforgivable of comedy sins: a dearth of genuine humor.