So I watched The Best Man…
This is one of those films that I grew up knowing about without ever watching. It was on what seemed like an infinite re-run loop on TV but I only got around to watching it late into my twenties. Revisiting it now for the purposes of this review, I can say it still holds up and has something of a timeless quality to it because of it’s genuine subject matter and the fact that men will always be idiots.
Okay, basic plot: Harper (Taye Diggs) is an author whose stock is on the rise. His soon to be published novel – which is loosely based on his experiences in college – is generating a great deal of hype and seems set to be a success. Harper sets off to New York for his best friend, Lance’s wedding. His old friends and Lance (Morris Chestnut) are eager to read his book and can’t quite understand Harper’s reluctance to share it. Harper’s reluctance is made clear as more of the group reads the book and discovers the shocking secrets it holds about Harper’s friendship with Lance’s soon to-be-wife, Mia (Monica Calhoun).
The thing I enjoyed most about this movie was how it portrayed the friendship between Harper, Lance and their two friends – Murch and Quentin – who are played by Harold Perrineau and Terrence Howard, respectively. The movie takes its time in not only explaining that they’re friends but also showing us this friendship. Moments of banter around a poker table, inside jokes over drinks. All these moments help solidify the idea of their friendship and this is crucial because this film is built on the idea of the betrayal of that friendship. The good work the film does setting that foundation allows its plot to have weight and consequence.
There’s a good amount of characters in this movie but director and screenwriter, Malcolm D. Lee, does a fantastic, sometimes surgical job in dividing the screentime to allow the leads to have the lion’s share while the supporting cast are pushed to the periphery. The characters are often one dimensional with nothing resembling character development or a character arc. The majority of the characters have a romantic hurdle to clear in their respective relationships but clearing them doesn’t have a fundamental impact on who they are as people. Much the same way as standing in a carpark doesn’t make you a car. Usually this would be a problem for me but the characters in this movie are more representations of people than actual people. There’s the playboy jock, controlling workaholic, commitment-phobe etc and the vague nature of these characters allows you to transfer your experiences onto them and see a little bit of your own life in them.
I realise that might sound like an insult but I mean it as a compliment and this doesn’t take anything away from the genuine and entertaining performances the cast offer. It’s young, black excellence from start to finish. It’s amazing to look back on what was, for several of these actors, their first big breaks in the business. Especially when you think about the longevity of their careers, seeing the talent they already had back then. Just amazing.
Overall, The Best Man is an entertaining and authentic feeling comedy that gives insight into the idiocy that comes with male friendships and the double-standards men place on their romantic relationships. It’s definitely worth watching and has tremendous re-watch value. 7/10