Background: Over the years, I've seen a lot of my associates worshiping various directors as though they could do no wrong. It didn't matter what examples were presented of critical (or popular) flops, they would press on as though external factors caused the flops and sing the butt-kissing praises of the folks that are in charge of converting money into movies (that hopefully, per the producers and financial backers, convert back into money just in larger amounts). I'm guilty of it too, my own icon being George Lucas, but it reminds me that most directors make a few decent flicks and then might as well be singled out as a horrible human beings that probably beats his puppies, wastes gas by driving hummers to KKK rallies, and even goes so far as to eat the last cookie from the package left on the counter. The latest case in point of this is Howard Deutch, the director of wonderfully appealing movies such as "Pretty In Pink" and "Some Kind of Wonderful", now held responsible for My Best Friend's Girl that I was sent weeks ago in the Blu-ray format on a disc containing both the theatrical and unrated versions.
Movie: My Best Friend's Girl is yet another showcase vehicle for actor Dane Cook, the man apparently viewed by someone or some group as good enough to back financially as he tries to become a leading man in Hollywood. Truth be told, I am not a big fan of the guy but I do find his work occasionally amusing when taken in small doses. The main problem with this movie being he is the central focus all too often. Staring out with ten (technically 14) reasons why his latest date "failed" so epically, the movie proceeds to show Dane as "Tank" a customer service representative such as all of us have dealt with in the past. Working for an air purifier company that has a single motto by which the man lives by: "no refunds", he treats his date so poorly that his fate is sealed in the eyes of this reviewer. The comedic aspects of the date included him playing offensive (and woefully dated) music at volumes guaranteed to blow an eardrum, taking her to dinner at a tragically poor restaurant, and after numerous comments targeted to offend her, he expects her to have sex with him. Needless to say, before the beginning credits roll it's shown that this act was a scam where he makes other men look better by comparison; your mind will probably be made up as to how much you will appreciate the flick, and Cook, both of which improve drastically with the introduction of alcohol in copious quantities to your digestive system.
Tank gets paid off by the latest loser who is so satisfied with the result that he goes and takes out a drunk floozy before getting back together with the lady. Tank's sensitive side is shown when he is rebuffed when pointing out that it was that kind of behavior that resulted in the need for Tank's services in the first place. Dismissed as a servant of his betters, the customer fluffs him off to go get laid, the framework of the plot soon established. See, Tank's best friend Dustin (Jason Biggs playing his weakest second stringer to date) who is being driven crazy by the (supposed) love of his life Alexis (Kate Hudson), this cutie just the latest in a very long line of women he has obsessed about. Unable to generate enough ego on his part to prevent himself from being a doormat, he ends up being dumped by Alexis even though he is the perfect man for her, the gal figuring she just hasn't had enough experience to fully appreciate him. As expected, Dustin hires Tank to weave his magic, hoping she will fall back into his (Dustin's) arms and they will live happily ever after together.
It doesn't take a genius to figure out what happens next, Tank boning Alexis repeatedly and becoming her bad boy booty call with no strings attached, both developing feelings for each other over time. Tank is discovered by Dustin to be a fraud (at least in his case) and Alexis finds herself well past caring about his rough edges (yikes!), the expected showdown taking place at the wedding of Alexis' sister (who was the recipient of Tank's charms earlier). If the plot points all sound kind of old and worn, that is because we have all seen this type of dynamic many times before (dating back to Shakespeare in some ways, though obviously not as well written). Along the way we are introduced to Tank's Lothario father Professor Turner (Alec Baldwin), a guy that nails more coeds than the football team, who rates women on an alphabetical system since a 1 through 10 is far too limiting. With such a goldmine of misogynistic thinking, some of you will probably think there was a lot of nudity and stuff that guys are supposed to find funny. Sadly, for every nugget of humor containing a kernel of truth, there were dozens of misfires that seemed equally distributed between the lame writing and the cast being unable to pull the jokes off, limiting the best moments to Hudson (who was interestingly singled out for the sole Razzie nomination where there were a great many candidates deserving them here).
If you get stuck watching this movie you will find a few gems to enjoy regardless of what your thoughts are on the battle between the sexes but that ultimately proved to worsen the show for me too, the potential of the cast and theme tossed aside for the cheap laugh over what could have been far better handled. While some of Deutch's movies might have been pretty bad in the past ("The Replacements", "Grumpier Old Men 2" and "The Great Outdoors" come to mind), this set a new low for him on multiple levels, his biggest mistake mentioned in the extras section being how he encouraged the cast to adlib much of the dialogue, resulting in rambling incoherence that makes my reviews look good by comparison. Hudson deserved a better script, Cook cannot yet handle the leading role in a movie, and the rest of the disposable cast were all thrown to the unfounded hope that there might be some chemistry between the romantic leads (there wasn't) so this is an unreserved Skip It as far as I'm concerned.
Picture: My Best Friend's Girl (Blu-ray) was presented in 1.78:1 ratio widescreen image using the AVC codec with a video bitrate all over the place (but tending to remain in the 21.2 Mbps area) but using a full 1080p resolution. The numbers aside, the picture seemed to look like two separate crews shot main sequences, some of them full of grain, minor video noise, edge enhancement, and a soft focus while other scenes looked sharp, crisp and clear. I did not get to compare the Blu-ray version from this review with the SD version but there did not appear to be much reason for the upgrade this time, the limited footage I watched in SD at a local Best Buy giving me enough to go on this time.
Sound: The audio was presented with a primary track in 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio English while the 5.1 French track in Dolby Digital Surround might appeal to a limited audience. There were subtitles in English, English for the deaf & hard of hearing, and Spanish but not all of the nuances translated to the text in any of them all that well. The vocals and sound effects had some modest separation and dynamic range in the primary track(s) but even with a variable audio bitrate upwards of 5.1 Mbps (at times), the only time I had a sense that someone cared about the aural qualities of the movie was during the music. To me, the music was first rate and perhaps a throwback to the director's days partnering up with John Hughes, with enough high end songs that I don't think any were replaced for this presentation. He bass was rarely used well and the balance was distinctively in favor of the music but it was not a bad aural experience overall.
Extras: The first "extra" to speak of would be the longer, unrated version that added about twelve minutes of filler material to the show. Having watched the movie far more than I care to publically admit, I did not notice the differences outside of a few extended scenes (the deleted scenes from the other part of the extras section not added in). In movies like Hancock, such footage was clear but it might help to enjoy the movie more if you want to dissect the specifics. Okay, there was also a digital copy of the movie for downloading onto computer or portable device; this being the LAST thing I wanted to do with the movie, some trailers, a means to add text and other onscreen icons to the movie as part of the boring "Molog" experience, and a paper insert. There were two commentaries (one with the director providing technical comments and his observations and the other with Jason Biggs, the writer, and producer all suggesting the flick was better than it was) on the unrated version of the movie. Then came the "exclusive" "Tanking Game" on the BD Live feature, a short on "The Prom" as a rite of passage, Professor Turner's guide to rating women A-Z, some clips of the cast discussing their dating lives, and a feature on Boston as the location, and 15 deleted scenes (some of which were pretty good but most of them kind of lame).
Final Thoughts: My Best Friend's Girl has been widely scorned as an "Epic Fail" of a flick on many levels, making me think someone at the studio mistook the ability to be politically incorrect as often as possible as the same thing as being funny. If you really like shock comedy routines such as those of Andrew Dice Clay when he was the flavor of the month, you will probably find enough to enjoy here to merit renting the SD version of the movie but the potential of the cast, even Cook, was never lived up to here and the technical values were quite uneven for a Blu-ray release costing so much so if you're going to consider this one, think long and hard about it. Most of what passes for "comedy" here is just mean spirited jabs at the world as seen by someone burnt a few too many times, limiting the value of the societal observations just as much as the belly laughs it could have invoked with a lighter touch. On the other hand, if you want to dump a gal, there are not too many movies this side of Max Hardcore that will serve you so effectively even if Cook does look a whole lot like performer Steven St. Croix.