It was the same with this other film, "The Accidental Husband", about a woman who ends up meeting someone that's not Mr. Right, but somehow seems right. And it's not only the plot and the outcome that are alike, there's something entirely wrong about the planning of both films, and the decisions they take. It's something that has to do with trying to defy clichés that ends up ruining the clichés they wanted to defy in the first place. Because this movie, "My best friend's girl", does not try to sidestep clichés or to make them slightly different, fresh and/or original (Anne Fletcher's "27 Dresses" comes to mind); the script gives every detail a little turn -sometimes more than one- and frankly, the film becomes confusing.
Jordan Cahan wrote the film, his first screenplay. There's nothing interesting on it except a reference to Norah Ephron, and it's not a reference this romantic comedy should have the right to make. More of a comedy than romance, it tells the story of Dustin (Jason Biggs), who's in love with Alexis (Kate Hudson) and needs the help of his friend/cousin (the family connection intends to generate some kind of sensible, empathetic moment with a plot line concerning a fight that never works) Tank (the comedian Dane Cook) to make her realize he's the one for her. "I'm Mr. Right, but not Mr. Right Now", he cries.
So, this is what Tank does: he makes women spend the worst night of their lives so they crawl back to their ex boyfriends. He does it by cursing the whole time and, basically, as the movie never gets tired of reminding us -one scene involving a telephone discussion which intends to be funny would be a complete waste if Kate Hudson wasn't so believable in her anger-, an asshole. It's fair to say that this is all the comic material that the film has to offer, and the truth is that the jokes never stop and they only work a few times.
Howard Deutch directed the film. He's so interested in generating laughs that he forgets about everything else that's going on in the film. He develops the love story with disrespect, with too many musical montages and with no concern whatsoever for the characters: therefore, the confusion. This is no joke: in the most easy and understandable of genres, the director's narration is incapable of achieving comprehension, and every time a romantic situation is unfolding, we have to ask ourselves a lot of questions that shouldn't be asked. Some romantic comedies are able to make the viewer think, and when they do it right, the viewer complies and wonders; because the film deserves it. In "My Best Friend's Girl", we are not interested.
The gamble of Deutch is on Cook and his ability for comedy. Yes, he's a comedian but that isn't going to make everything he says funny. We've seen him play this kind of role before in another awful, also sort of sex oriented romantic comedy, "Good Luck Chuck": the insensitive, selfish guy who cares about nothing and then meets a woman that changes his life. After watching him in three films (the two mentioned and the mildly better "Dan in Real Life"), my conclusion is that he's not an actor: he's a comedian in movies. He has the charm and sympathy of a leading man, but lacks the tenderness and meditation. It's like he never stops. So here, neither he nor Deutch stop and a couple of the jokes in the film, because of repetition, achieve big laughs.
Anyway, it's the wrong gamble. Not because the director should have chosen another actor to play the lead, but because the take on the genre is mistaken. Why? The director doesn't even begin to understand it. There are romantic comedies that have succeeded by embracing clichés and making, above all, an intelligent use of them. There's no need to put things in a different order, especially when you're not going to do it right. Deutch doesn't understand the romantic comedy because he doesn't see what's going on with it and what should be done. That's why he gives Jason Biggs a role to play himself one more time and the result is terribly boring; that's why he doesn't take advantage of Kate Hudson's enormous talent for the genre (something directors that work with her should always exploit, even though she'll always do the job well); and that's why, unintentionally and because the actor is huge, he gets from Alec Baldwin the best scenes of the film.
However, the fact remains: Deutch didn't know what he was doing, neither technically nor dramatically. The result is a bad movie that's not even visually stimulating to watch, I mean aesthetically. There's not even one interesting idea in that aspect.
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