The trouble with Howard Deutch and first-time screenwriter Jordan Cahan's sniggering comedy of modern romance isn't that it's relentlessly vulgar, coarse and juvenile. It's that it lacks the courage of its swinish convictions, and abruptly acquiesces to bland rom-com clichés three-quarters of the way to its appointed end.
Boston-based Uber-nebbish Dustin (American Pie's pastry-loving Jason Biggs) is head over heels for officemate Alexis (Kate Hudson), a gilded flibbertigibbet with a heart of smut. Not that Dustin would know: They've been dating for five weeks and haven't even slept together when he drops the love bomb and sends the skittish cutie scampering. In desperation, Dustin turns to the secret weapon he swore he'd never use: Best friend and roommate Tank Turner (comedian Dane Cook), a born-and-bred cad who's turned his gift for messing with the ladies into a thriving sideline. Boyfriends on the outs hire Tank to take their unsuspecting girls on the worst date ever, and after a night of Tank's "EMOTIONAL TERRORISM" -- boorish bravado, sleazy penny pinching, relentlessly crude sexual advances and more -- the most imperfect swain suddenly looks like the catch of a lifetime among the slimy bottom feeders trolling the sea of love. Naturally, there's a hitch: Alexis' inner bad girl chooses this moment to assert herself -- egged on by super-slutty roommate Ami (Lizzy Caplan) -- and Alexis and Tank's date from hell winds up looking more like a match made in heaven. And that's pretty darned awkward.
Briefly part of the glittering John Hughes pack, hack Howard Deutch hit his career high point with his first two films, PRETTY IN PINK (1986) and SOME KIND OF WONDERFUL (1987), and then found his level with dismal sequels like GRUMPIER OLD MEN (1995), THE ODD COUPLE II (1998) and THE WHOLE TEN YEARDS (2004). MY BEST FRIEND'S GIRL (which repeats the Cars song from which it gets its title at least four times before the closing credits) does nothing to restore his reputation. It's lazy, pointless, vaguely distasteful and, worst of all, thoroughly forgettable: Even Alec Baldwin's go-for-broke turn as Tank's womanizing dad can't lift the film from its generically snarky doldrums. leave a comment --Maitland McDonagh