Will Kate Hudson phone in her performance?
MY BEST FRIEND'S GIRL (Howard Deutch). 101 minutes. Opens Friday (September 19). Rating: NN
My Best Friend's Girl is a predictable romantic comedy about a scumball redeemed by love. What saves it from pure tedium is that for once the obligatory gross-out and insult humour is central to the story.
Dane Cook plays Tank, a guy with an attitude toward women so shabby and manipulative that he runs a little sideline for his friends, taking women on dates so foul they'll run screaming back to the boyfriend they just dumped. When he performs this service for best friend Dustin (Jason Biggs), the girl, Alexis (Kate Hudson), is up for some no-strings sex. Tank falls for Alexis, Dustin finds out, Tank plunges into gloom and romantic yearning, and the movie sags badly until the wedding-trashing gross-out finale brings back the laughs.
In the first hour, Jordan Cahan's smart script delivers lots of small-to-medium-sized laughs, often from throwaway lines, plus a few bigger ones, among them a Christian-themed pizza parlour called Cheesus Crust and a dirty phone call that pops up in a customer-complaint training session.
The romance bombs, though. There's nothing anywhere to suggest anything but mutual lust.
Cook has one great moment of menace as he strides forth to demolish the wedding. He's going to make some director a fine villain. Elsewhere, he's suitably focused and energetic. Hudson matches him well and has a flair for insult comedy.
Deutch's (The Whole Ten Yards) direction is adequate for the dialogue scenes but falls flat when it comes to creating lyrical romance.