A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this "hard R" comedy -- which may attract teen fans of star Dane Cook -- is stupid from the get-go and doesn't improve much as it goes along. It tries to earn laughs with coarse, gross-out humor, but not the genius kind masking a heartfelt message, a la Judd Apatow. There's partial nudity (breasts and butt) and non-stop sexual references, plus plenty of swearing (including "f--k"), drinking, demeaning sexist jokes, and more.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Tank (Dane Cook) is a customer service agent by day and a professional jerk by night. Guys hire him to date their exes and act like such a pig that the women practically beg the guys to reconcile. His roommate and best buddy, Dustin (Jason Biggs), is the exact opposite: sweet, supportive, and utterly without guile. In fact, apart from an occasional porn habit, he's Mr. Right. But to Alexis (Kate Hudson), a colleague Dustin is head over heels for, he's simply Mr. Not Right Now. When he professes love and she's scared off, Dustin hires Tank to work his "magic." Trouble is, Alexis turns out working her magic on Tank. And before you can say predictable, the man who's never fallen in love does -- to disastrous results.
Is it any good?
This movie is crass when it needn't be, romantic when it doesn't ring true, and hatefully sexist for much of the time. What are talents like Hudson (Almost Famous seems so long ago these days) and Biggs (who, post-American Pie, seemed headed for a stellar, Ben Stiller-type career) doing in this mess? MY BEST FRIEND'S GIRL presumes that women are still here to save despicable men from fates worse than their deeds and that men are, with few exceptions, cads and idiots who need rescuing.
Not that movies have never been made on such premises before -- but for them to work, the writing has to be sharp, the storytelling superb, and the characters believable. It's not atypical for frogs to turn into princes in romantic comedies, but this one takes that conceit too far. (How different might the movie have been had the story been told with Dustin as the hero rather than the sidekick?) Cook does such a great job playing the near-nastiest man alive that it's hard to understand how he's all appealing. How can we believe that a man who would stoop so low as to proposition his girlfriend's mother would be forgiven? Or that said girlfriend, who's supposed to be smart, would actually be taken in by him in the first place? My Best Friend's Girl doesn't just require mere suspension of disbelief, it demands lunacy.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the "raunchy comedy" trend. Why are sex- and swearing-filled movies so popular? Is this movie as successful as its hard-R predecessors, or does it fall flat? Why? Parents, ask your teens what parts of the movie they found offensive. Why was that the case? Did any of it seem romantic? Why or why not? Families can also discuss the movie's perspective on women. Are they really so gullible that they'd fall for such an over-the-top scam like Tank's? Is Dustin really unattractive to women just because he's nice? Why would Alexis be attracted to Tank?
- In theaters: September 19, 2008
- On DVD or streaming: January 12, 2009
- Cast: Dane Cook, Jason Biggs, Kate Hudson
- Director: Howard Deutch
- Studio: Lionsgate
- Genre: Comedy
- Run time: 103 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: strong language and sexual content throughout, including graphic dialogue and some nudity.
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