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Monday, September 22, 2008

My Best Friend's Girl

I adore love stories, especially dysfunctional ones, but aren’t they all? My sister Clamydia once dated a guy for seven months while carrying the child of her former boyfriend without even knowing that her current beau was the fraternal twin of her baby daddy. How white trash is that? It would make for a trés chic Lifetime (“Television for women…and gay men”) movie starring Lauren Conrad or Heidi Montag. This is exactly the type of thing that proves exactly why you should never date anyone with a common surname and certainly not without doing a complete credit and background check on the guy before you let him dunk his crueller in your coffee, if you know what I mean.

My Best Friend’s Girl, nice guy Dustin (Jason Biggs; Eight Below) is wild for his knock-out co-worker Alexis (Kate Hudson; Fool’s Gold). Everything seems to be going along swimmingly and then ~ boom! ~ Alexis gives Dustin the speech. You know the one: “I think we should be friends…” It seems that Alexis has come to the conclusion that she hasn’t “dated” nearly enough men to know if Dustin is the right guy for her because she hasn’t had much “experience” with guys and is afraid she might be missing something without sleeping around more. What a wholesome concept picture for young women everywhere! Don’t trust your heart. Let your va-jay-jay act like a homing device in selecting the right husband even if you have to audition a thousand guys to find the “right” one.

So what better idea could there be than for Dustin to hire his roommate, Tank (Dane Cook; Good
Luck Chuck), to do what he does best, play man-whore. Tank has a long history as a go-to guy for men wanting to get their gals back. Tank “accidently” meets the woman in question, woos her, and then proves to be the biggest cretin she could ever imagine, so rotten that she will inevitably come crawling back to her “nice guy” ex-boyfriend, begging to reconcile.

For Cook, this is a role that seems written expressly for him. His persona as a professional a-hole couldn’t be more perfect, although, as he proved in Dan in Real Life, he is capable of more self-aware and sensitive moments when the time is right, and it shows up here when the predictable happens and Tank falls for his prey, meaning both men are head over heels for Alexis.

While the overall plot is conventional (including the obvious resolution), it’s the shtick along the way
that makes the movie a riot to watch, especially an extended set of scenes involving Alexis taking Tank to her sister’s wedding instead of Dustin. There’s no way I’m telling you a thing about what happens at the reception, but it has to be the BEST wedding reception I’ve ever been to, on film or in real life. I’ve never laughed so hard all year as I did at a certain outrageous moment involving Tank and the mother of the bride (Faye Grant; Manna from Heaven). It is the perfect gag.

Hudson is so-so as always. I don’t know what it is about her, but other than channeling her mother, Goldie Hawn’s, giggly ‘dumb blonde’ act from the 1960s, she never seems to change much from movie to movie. She spends at least half of her time on-screen in this one on her back naked, pretending to have sex, which, according to the tabloids, is something she has had plenty of experience “auditioning” for with a whole lot of potential leading men. Then again, Alexis’ role is probably the least important link in this triangle. Really, all she has to do is look pretty and play the role of Oleo Margarine (“the low-priced spread”). The heavy lifting is mostly on Cook’s shoulders, with an assist from Biggs.

Jason Biggs is an odd duck of an actor. He ought to be a big star by now. He’s played the lead in
all three successful American Pie movies, but then nosedived into a series of supporting roles in lousy films (Jersey Girl) or the lead in ones nobody ever saw (The Pleasure of Your Company). Unfortunately, his perpetual baby-face makes it nearly impossible to take him seriously as a leading man since even at thirty he still looks like a college student who just might have an unnatural attraction to his mother’s warm apple pie. If only Alexis recognized that twinkle in his eye she might not have thought Dustin was such a goodie-two-shoes.

My Best Friend’s Girl is not the type of movie I would usually rave over, but I have to give props to debuting writer Jordan Cahan and veteran director Howard Deutch (The Whole Ten Yards; Pretty in Pink) for creating a silly farce that could have been downright nasty in the wrong hands, but in theirs comes off as genuinely funny. I think it is your best bet at the Essex Cinemas right now, and give it my squeal of approval. Eeeeek!

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