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."
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 Howard Deutch ("Pretty in Pink") remakes his '80s oeuvre with an '80s pop-riddled romp about realizing that "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.
Cook sets himself up as a C-list Vince Vaughn. 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. ---------
MY BEST FRIEND'S GIRL
>R: strong language and sexual content throughout, including graphic dialogue and some nudity.
>Starring: Dane Cook, Kate Hudson, Jason Biggs.
>Director: Howard Deutch.
>Running time: 1 hr. 41 min.
>Playing: Area wide.
>In a nutshell: Isolated bits don't add up to much.