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Review: Dane Cook changes his spots for 'American Exit'

Posted Tuesday, May 14, 2019 at 2:47 PM Central

by John Couture

If you look at this past week's box office, you'll notice that Ryan Reynolds is back making serious bank with his mouth. This time, he's traded in his foul-mouthed Deadpool routine for something more family friendly in Detective Pikachu.

If you forgive the comparison, Dane Cook is looking to make a similar move with this week's release American Exit. Cook is known for his raunchy comic routines and starring roles in big budget comedies like Good Luck Chuck and My Best Friend's Girl, but American Exit is decidedly something completely different.

Dane Cook plays a desperate father who steals an expensive painting from a shady art dealer intent on selling it for a quick profit. He brings his rebellious son along for the ride as sort of a last-ditch effort to bond before his terminal illness catches up with him. Unfortunately, things go off the rails as they always do and now he's not the only one whose days may be numbered.

American Exit is being billed as being based on a true story, which I find incredibly remarkable. Of course, there's a lot of wiggle room on the whole "based on a true story" declaration and I would genuinely interested to see how much of the film was fiction. As it stands, the film plays out like a typical crime-thriller and we all know that real life is rarely so neat and tidy.

I tried to do some quick research on the Internet but to no avail. If it is indeed based on a true story, It must have been one that didn't generate much publicity. Regardless, the real story with American Exit is the role taken on by Dane Cook. To be fair, I'm sure that Dane Cook has made a nice living voicing animated characters in films ranging from Horton Hears a Who! to Planes, but he's been rather missing from live-action fare lately.

In fact, the last live-action film that Dane Cook was in was the little-seen 2012 film Detention. I've seen it, but I'm willing to bet that not a single other person reading this has. It was that small of a release. Needless to say, Dane Cook is in need of a comeback film and while American Exit is probably not going to be seen enough to qualify, it certainly opens your eyes in terms of the actor's range.

I'm not really sure that we've seen much of anything from Dane that wouldn't be shelved in the comedy section of the video store up until now, but that changes with this film. His performance is one that truly captures you off guard because you are sitting there, waiting for him to break into his schtick, but it never comes. No, instead, he turns in a serious role that remarkably resets the parameters to which he can now be reliably expected to meet.

It also helps that his son is played by the acting powerhouse in the making that is Levi Miller. The Pan actor is quickly establishing himself as one of the hottest properties in Hollywood among the under-20 set and he only adds to his mystique with American Exit. The back and forth between his and Dane's character is as raw of a father-son interaction that I have seen on film in a long time.

I won't spoil the film, but I will say that the plot holds up and delivers a satisfying experience. In the end, you are left asking yourself if you truly just watched Dane Cook in a dramatic role and the answer is a resounding yes. American Exit isn't the biggest film coming out this week, but it might just be the most interesting one. Give it a watch, you won't regret it.