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STUDIO: Sony Pictures
RATED: NOT RATED
RUNNING TIME: 56 Minutes
• Dane’s Antics and Ad Libs
• Deleted Scenes
• Gag Reels
“Stand bravely in the path of the Dane Train like the infamous Tiananmen Square protestor and let its comedy run you aground.”
Dane Cook, Justine Bateman, other people who are there for Dane to play his inspired* comedy offerings off of.
Sex with the Valenti family was always a disappointment.
Let’s defer to the DVD synopsi of the pilots and their glorious encapsulations of the ‘laffz’:
“In Cooked 1, Dane is a stand-up comedian who, after living the easy life, loses it all and schemes relentlessly to get it back. Justine Bateman (TV’s Family Ties), Pat Finn (TV’s Ed) and Bre Blair (TV’s What About Brian) also star.
In Cooked 2, Dane is a charismatic guy who’s always looking forward to his next life experience. His best friends, Mike, the perennial cynic, and Dakota, the girl-next-door, accompany him as he tries to trade an antique electric chair for a knife-wielding Samurai monkey trained in the martial arts. Joel David Moore (Dodgeball) and Liz Vassey (TV’s CSI) also star.”
Doesn’t that sound great?
Cook had evolved beyond your standard wacky comic, and moved on from chewing to scenery to chewing any actor who dared come within the frame along with him.
I know mileage may vary when it comes to people’s opinion of Dane Cook (at this point, it’s probably a 90/10 hatred versus acceptance rate, however), but my stance is this: Cook is an able stand-up comedian, but an absolutely wretched ‘personality’ and actor. I think the guy has honed his craft over the numerous years on the standup circuit to the point where even though his material may not be A-plus crackling stuff (there are a long line of standup comedians I prefer to him, personally), his delivery sends it past the mediocre mark. It’s the omnipresent media personality Dane Cook that is completely worthy of scorn: his performances on film to this point have been execrable, and his constant appearances on my television are starting to grate (the nadir of the recent Cook exposurethon are his MLB playoff commercials; don’t ruin a beautiful goddamn thing for me, Dane, keep your facial hair-related tangents to yourself) and allow me a pretty great understanding of why so many people have grown to despise the guy.
For those of you who want even more ammo in that department, I’d suggest picking up and slogging through these pretty terrible pilots that have been slapped together for a DVD release. If anything, they just support my thesis, that while Mr. Cook may prove adept at performing in front of a live audience with a microphone, there’s absolutely nothing there in terms of a character or acting or a comic persona that will allow him to get by in movies or say, these sitcoms. It’s telling that these were both released at roughly the same time as Retaliation blew up on the charts, becoming one of the best-selling comedy CD’s of all time and still there were no takers for these comedic doldrums. The first pilot (‘Cooked 1’) is the type of thing that leads one to wonder why anybody put the effort into making this thing in the first place. There’s nothing indicating that this series would work out over the long run (there’s nothing charming about Cook’s persona, so any attempt at romance with him and his female lead is a dead end); what with its lack of comedy, drama, or a real premise. So he’s a slacker? Who’s only really good at stand-up comedy? Wow, sign me up!
Dane, in the throes of one of his infamous ‘Tourgasms’.
And ‘Cooked 2’ is even worse despite being theoretically better. It’s trying to ape that Get A Life-style surrealistic comedy mixed in with your average sitcom set-up, but again the complete and utter failure of this premise falls at Cook’s feet. He’s just not an appealing lead in a sitcom, as he only seems to have one gear (obnoxious over-delivery of dialogue mixed with supposedly funny reaction shots) and the other two supporting actors bring nothing to the table other than existing as vacuums for Dane’s jokes to spiral into and die. They make the comedically correct move of bringing a monkey into play (and bonus points for getting David Steinberg, director of the criminally underrated The Wrong Guy to shoot this pilot), but all of the absurd asides seem to pale in comparison to the non-stop Cookery that’s on display. It also features an uncomfortably long love scene between Dane and a female actress (going beyond the general uncomfortability one feels when watching Zach Braff be intimate with every young female actress possible on Scrubs and moves into haunting territory rather quickly). All in all, both pilots are a testament to the failure of Dane Cook as an actor or as a comedic brand that can be thrust into any situation and work. However, with numerous film projects still coming down the chute, one sees no foreseeable end to the Danepocalypse that we’re all bound to suffer through. Avoid, even if you feel positively towards the man.
"Alright, Dane, we’ll let you off the porch, but no more comedy on our new rug, okay?"
The cover relays to you all you need to know: Dane Cook energetically shits monkeys. The video quality varies, as the first pilot is shot on digital and the second on film, but neither are given shit treatment in their transfers. There’s a baffling amount of extra material on hand here (suggesting they’re padding out the DVD beyond the forty-five minutes of actual eye-pain-free material) so if you’re a Dane Cook fanatic prepare to be amazed. For each pilot there’s a never-ending stream of ‘bloopers and ad libs’, which essentially translates to about twenty takes of each scene, all of which is pretty rotten, terrible shit. The thing about these is, they go a long way towards proving Dane Cook has absolutely no ability to create comedy of his own volition, as the supposed ‘ad-libs’ prove to be the same performance with just a slightly changed verbiage of the dialogue that came before it. Worst of all is the sequence from Cooked 2 where Dane and co-star Joel David Moore both prove themselves hilariously inept at ad-libbing famous last words, instead constantly relying on the previously provided written material and stuttering along trying to think of anything to say, instead just burying themselves in a cavern of comedic failure. It’s a primer on why most actors aren’t depended on to ad-lib, and it makes you appreciate those capable of creating magic in the moment that much more. There are also a few deleted scenes and some trailers for ancient properties like Guess Who, baffling me as to the purpose of their inclusion. There’s a lot of material here, but it’s all garbage, and by the end of this set I’m sold on Dane Cook as comedic non-entity and it has wiped away any of the goodwill created by his previous workman-like performances in his stand-up. Avoid like bird flu.
2.5 out of 10
*Inspired by hate.