The Best Man (1999)


The Best Man (1999) Review

The best text for a film to toy with the "emotional heartstrings" of an audience is undoubtedly the romantic comedy. Broad in its appeal, the filmmaker doesn't have to worry about turning away certain audiences with horror, overblown special effects, or too much action. Romantic comedies are so successful because they parody our fascination with love and all its complexities. They are like rolling along a roller coaster of emotion, poking fun at our society's mores, twisting and turning towards a morally fulfilling conclusion. It's a Catch-22 -- despite the fact that we know what's going to happen in the end, we keep coming back for more, and are continuously intrigued time and again by the molding of a blissful resolution.

The Best Man, directed and written by Malcom Lee, is a prime example of an exhilarating love story that will certainly charm its audience. Well written and fabulously acted, this film hopefully will put some fresh new faces onto the Hollywood scene.

The story of a group of college friends reuniting for a wedding, The Best Man chronicles a weekend in the life of Harper Stewart (Taye Diggs - Go, The Wood). A commitment shy writer who must deal with marrying off his best friend Lance Sullivan (Morris Chestnut - G.I. Jane), the hype of his upcoming first novel, and facing "the gang" again, who will not let him escape some secrets of his past. By the end of the weekend, several of those secrets are indirectly revealed in an advanced copy of his book, which, much to his dismay, has already gotten around the to the group of friends. The culprit is an over ambitious bridesmaid Jordan Armstrong, (Nia Long - Soul Food) who is also a television producer looking for an exclusive interview, and a maybe a little something else from Harper? Just what are these dark secrets of Harper's past? You'll just have to find out, but when they are revealed, the whole group will have to reevaluate their relationships with each other, their lovers, and with themselves.

The most commendable aspect of this film is its amazing cast. Taye Diggs is one of Hollywood's brightest young stars and turns in a brilliant performance in his first feature role. Quentin (Terrance Howard - Johns, Mr. Holland's Opus), one of Harper's main college buddies, steals the show as a hedonistic loverboy with no clear career ambitions despite enormous artistic talents. Hilariously funny, his character encompasses a perfect blend of intelligence and sass. Another buddy, Murch (Harold Perrineau- best known as the narrator from HBO's Oz), plays an oversensitive soft spoken guy trapped in a dysfunctional relationship with longtime girlfriend Shelby (Melissa De Sousa). It's nice to see him in a role where he's not confined to a dark cell or a wheelchair as in "Oz." He's a talented actor with a bright future, and this film shows his versatility. Sanaa Lathan (Life), Harper's girlfriend whom he can't quite commit to, also puts in a memorable performance. Morris Chestnut (Boyz N the Hood) must be commended for his display of emotion in anticipation of his forthcoming wedding despite the maelstrom of hysteria leading up to the event. Finally, Nia Long (Stigmata) whose character's overzealousness often shades her good intentions, plays an excellent role. This cast is one of the finest I've seen in any film of late.

The only weak points were that the movie ran a little long and several crucial scenes were a little far-fetched. Like when Lance, the groom-to-be, steps into the bathroom to read Harper's book while the strippers are getting it on at the bachelor party in his honor. Come on. How are we supposed to believe that?

Otherwise, this is definitely a fun first date movie. A good one for breaking the ice with that first rendezvous on a Friday night. By the end of the film, you just may find yourself with your arm around that special someone.

Smile, Morris.

Facts and Figures

Reviews 3.5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director: Malcom D. Lee