A couple of schools of thought come into play with the new Dane Cook comedy My Best Friend's Girl. Start with "If at first you don't succeed" and maybe work your way down to "The definition of madness is to do the same thing over and over, expecting a different result."
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Lexington Herald-Leader
Thus does Hollywood hurl Cook, the most divisive comic since, who?, Andrew Dice Clay? Carrot Top?, at the screen, time and again, hoping something will stick.
Cook remakes his Good Luck Chuck with Best Friend's Girl, playing a guy so good at being obnoxious that he charges other guys to date their exes and send them screaming back into the arms of Mr. Cast Aside.
Kate Hudson remakes Failure to Launch as the woman who falls for Mr. Jerk-on-Purpose, right down to casting Lizzy Caplan as a Zooey Deschanel look-and-sound-alike as her sassy, sexy roomie/best friend.
Jason Biggs remakes every movie he's done since American Pie, playing the poor, dull sap who can't get the girl because he's a dull sap.
And director Howard Deutch (Pretty in Pink) remakes his '80s oeuvre with an '80s pop-riddled romp about realizing "I'm not the best she can do."
Think of this as an R-rated Pretty in Pink, with Cook throwing himself at this character, Sherman "Tank" Turner, with a vulgar vengeance. He courts. He dances. He charms. He curses. He insults. He drinks. He smokes. He does a little gay bashing (OK, a lot).
"You sound like Liberace's stylist's boyfriend."
Tank's the heavy artillery, dragging dates to strip clubs and health inspector-flunked restaurants, bombarding them with coarse come-ons. They call the ex, and Tank collects his pay. He doesn't want to help Dustin (Biggs) with his stuck-in-the-friend-zone problem with Alexis (Hudson) because he's like family. But he does.
But Alexis' "Tanking" doesn't take. Our boy's got a problem. And even the tree that this worm-ridden apple didn't fall far from (Alec Baldwin is the sleazeball college prof dad) can't help him. Tank's in love.
Alexis, meanwhile, isn't sure he's not the worst decision she's ever made — "And I've eaten sushi in Tijuana!"
A funny bit: He takes a Christian school teacher to a hilariously sacrilegious pizza joint, Cheezus Crust, "Where pizza's a religion.. .. . People worship it."
Another grin: Cook busting a move, old-school, when Tank takes Alexis to "the prom" she missed in high school.
But isolated bits don't add up to much here. Deutch keeps trotting out that guitar solo to the Cars' title tune, My Best Friend's Girl, as if that can make up the film and its star's charm deficit.
With his dyed hair, perma-stubble and too-fast, too-rehearsed patter, Cook sets himself up as a C-list Vince Vaughn. He's been in film and TV since the late '90s, and can count one good credit on his resume: Dan in Real Life. You don't have to be a Cook hater (Google him, it's an eye-opener) to realize that he's best used as a supporting player. He's a one-trick pony. And no matter how many times he trots out that trick, he's never going to get it right.