It's Time To Admit Dane Cook Was The Underappreciated King Of 2000s Romantic Comedies
We don't talk about this enough.
When we talk about the icons of romantic comedies, a lot of names come to mind. Julia Roberts is arguably the undisputed queen, many would say, but others, like Drew Barrymore, still have a strong claim to the throne, given their catalog of movies. When it comes to the king, there are definitive choices as well, though I doubt many would pick my underappreciated monarch of 2000s romantic comedies. I say this knowing it's a hot take, but it's time to right some wrongs and give Dane Cook his flowers as an underappreciated king of romantic comedies.
Perhaps it was because Dane Cook was one of the most prolific comedians at the time that he was overlooked in this category. It could also be that critics didn't like many of the movies he was a part of back then, though I liked them in my high school days. Armed with that justification alone, I'm ready to make a case that we were too harsh on Cook, as well as the romantic comedies he was a part of in that era.
Dane Cook's Movies Have A Different Humor Than The Standard Rom-Com
If you look at the past reviews for Good Luck Chuck, Employee of the Month and My Best Friend's Girl, they all have a common theme. Critics will talk about the potential of the concept and maybe even concede there's a deeper story there, but then mention how the humor is crude, vulgar and gross. There's not really much I can say to dispute that or even deny it, but I don't think that's a reason to dismiss the work entirely.
Look at the body of stand-up comedy Dane Cook produced in the 2000s. It's more than fair to say that vulgarity and crudeness was his brand. If you were trying to make a romantic comedy that utilized Cook in that era, the vulgarity and crudeness had to come along with it. After all, some of the people that would see these movies would be people who liked Cook's jokes and style of humor.
As a result, I'm of the opinion that these aforementioned movies were unfairly judged. Those who knew Dane Cook knew exactly what to expect, but it's definitely possible the same people doing Cook's signature "Sufi" weren't the people seeking out the next rom-com featuring Jessica Simpson, Jessica Alba or Kate Hudson. That includes the critics who turned up to the movie and realized the humor was well off point for the standard romantic comedy. But just because the movies weren't for everybody, does that mean they aren't for anybody?
Dane Cook Gives Solid Performances In These Movies
One thing I've thought about Dane Cook across his entire acting career is that he's one of the better comedian actors. Stand-up comedians do seem to have more success at making that transition to movies and television, and Cook is another example of where that worked.
The evidence of that lies within some of the reviews of his films, maybe even his worst of all, Good Luck Chuck. Even Dane Cook has admitted that the film had problems, but when Digital Spy reviewed the movie back when it was released, it had positive praise for him and co-star Jessica Alba. Check out this little bit, which actually claims that his performance alongside Alba helps balance out the shortcomings of the movie:
Is this a cherry-picked quote from someone who is seemingly a fan of Dane Cook and his comedy? Absolutely. At the same time, I'd challenge the reader to bring up a performance in which Dane Cook was an objectively bad actor in, and I think they'd struggle to come up with an instance. He's never delivered anything award-winning, but he did allegedly impress Steven Spielberg with an audition once. I'd also argue he spoke to an audience not exactly predisposed to seeing a romantic comedy, which brings me to my next point.
Dane Cook Was The Gateway I Needed To Appreciate Rom Coms
Any reader who has stuck around this long has to be like, "This dude must've only seen Dane Cook rom-com in his youth." You'd be half right, and yes, I had zero interest in watching a romantic comedy in my teens until seeing movies like Employee of the Month. I was a teen too busy quoting the "chicken sangwich" joke and enjoying another popular comedy in my friend circle that also featured Cook, Waiting.
I can't say that I matured a lot or my viewpoint on the world changed after seeing Good Luck Chuck, but I can say that I did go on to go see P.S. I Love You and was completely blindsided by the plot point that Gerard Butler's character was dead. I wouldn't have sat in that theater if it wasn't for Dane Cook... and maybe the fact that 300 also came out that year.
Perhaps the point I'm making here is that there are others like me in that era who may not have sat through the classics of that era like Sweet Home Alabama or Just My Luck. Sure, the diehard fans of the genre may not consider Dane Cook's rom-com offerings as even mid-tier on their list, but they, and the comedian, will always hold a special place in my heart.
Dane Cook may not be the undisputed king of the 2000s romantic comedy era, but he's certainly an underappreciated king who served as a gateway for me, and possibly other teenage guys at the time, to the genre. That, in my opinion, is something that I think warrants celebrating, especially considering how the path might've turned out had I just kept hammering my brain with raunchy humor and crude jokes.
If you now have the hankering to check out one of these Dane Cook romantic comedies just to see if they hold up, you're in luck. My Best Friend's Girl is currently available to stream with an HBO Max subscription. Check it out and maybe seek out his other works if that one impresses you.
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Mick likes good television, but also reality television. He grew up on Star Wars, DC, Marvel, and pro wrestling and loves to discuss and dissect most of it. He’s been writing online for over a decade and never dreamed he’d be in the position he is today.