I was disappointed in this Dane Cook comedy.
I know what you're thinking. How can anyone be disappointed in
Dane Cook, given the realistically pessimistic expectations
engendered by the fact that ... well, the fact that he's Dane Cook.
It's like saying you're a bit disappointed in the antichrist.
I'm not unaware of Cook's tics and peculiarities, and I know he's
not the most subtle guy in the world, but I thought this was an
excellent vehicle for him. Here's the set-up: guys hire him to date
women who have recently dumped them. The women really want to get
back in the dating scene and see what they have been missing, but
one date with Dane is a splash of cold water to their faces - a
reminder of just how ugly that whole scene can be. Maybe that would
be true even if Dane were just being himself, but in this case, he
is deliberately acting like the date from hell, because that's
what's necessary to drive the women immediately back to the guys who
hired Dane. In one short night, he reminds the women of every single
thing that can go wrong on a date with somebody new, and forces them
to realize how good it is to have someone safe, even if they are a
little boring or unpolished.
You would think that a good comedy writer should be able to hit
that right out of the ballpark. It's batting practice. All they have
to do is think of dozens of funny, creepy things for Dane to do.
I'll bet every good-looking woman in the world has a dozen real
stories which could be used for this purpose with only slight
The writers did come up with a couple of funny scenes. In one,
Dane is the wedding date, and the bride is his date's sister. Dane
goes up to their mother and tells her that she must have been a hot
slice of fuckberry pie in her day, then takes down his pants, sticks
his dick in her face and says, "Well, c'mon, mom, it's not going to
suck itself." That's a few minutes after he asks to cut in when the
bride and groom are having their first dance. OK, that's all over
the top, but it's outrageous enough to get a laugh. In another case,
Dane takes a devout Christian girl to a tragically hip pizza parlor
called Cheesus Crust, where the pizzas are all in the shape of
crosses and each order has a tastelessly catchy name calculated to
offend religious people by making light of Christ's suffering. Not a
bad comedy idea. At least it showed some creativity in matching
Dane's boorishness to the specific characteristics of the woman he
was hired to offend, and somebody went to a lot of trouble to create
a gigantic mural of the disciples and Jesus eating pizza at the last
supper. There were also some funny scenes between Dane and Alec
Baldwin as the sleazy father who taught Dane everything he needed to
know about acting like an asshole.
For the most part, however, the dates from hell just weren't that
imaginative to begin with, and the rest of the film was dragged to a
standstill by the two serious Kate Hudson love stories which were
driving the plot. The romances ended up shoehorning the promisingly
dark premise into the shopworn romantic comedy template. The forced
happy ending and obligatory character redemption lacks any
credibility because we have not been given permission to like Dane's
character or to want him to be redeemed. Elsewhere in the film, the
scenes with Jason Biggs, as the schmuck whose unrequited love is the
story's focal point, are embarrassingly unfunny. Biggs infuses his
role with plenty of energy, but the ol' college try just isn't
enough because the material is trite and boring.
Because this movie has a few laugh-out-loud moments, it isn't as
bad a comedy as the IMDB rating might lead you to believe, but the
batting practice premise should have resulted in a thunderous
McGwire homer and instead just delivered a fly ball to the warning
track that got the crowd to its feet, but ultimately disappointed.
You'll probably walk out of the theater liking the film this might
have been if it had the courage to stray from the usual tedious Kate
Hudson rom-com formula.