Ossus Library Index Drama Movie Index

THE BEST MAN

Directed by Malcolm D. Lee (1999, Universal Pictures)
Starring Taye Diggs, Nia Long, and Morris Chestnut

The wedding party reads a preview copy of a book published by the best man, which tells stories about all of them, more truthful than they would like.

 

 

4 stars

June 11th, 2000 on Video

 
   

A lot of fun, with characters who come and go in the action, and some who are not quite what they seem to be.  Hilarious at moments, and at others, it made me want to strangle them.  But everything flowed smoothly and naturally.

The cast was all black, which made it very different from just about everything in the movies these days.  Better than that, it featured black people who were intelligent and didn't fit into the clichés.  Hard to believe!

Harper had just send his first novel to the publishers.  But a couple of advanced copies have already started making the rounds.  Oprah wants to interview him!  Unfortunately, the book is about the friends he knew back in college, and it visits the truth, with its characters barely concealed behind false names. 

Worse yet, the characters recognize themselves!  Robin, Harper's current girlfriend, worries that she doesn't measure up against this main woman character, the perfect woman.  She is also worried about meeting with the rest of his friends, at the upcoming wedding of two of them. 

Harper arrives in town a few days ahead of her.  He meets up with two of his buddies, Julian and Quentin, and the girl he almost slept with on the last night of exams, Jordan.  All three have read the book.  Julian is not pleased with the way his girlfriend is treated in the book.  Quentin appears to be lazy and uninterested in anything, but he is a great observer.  And Jordan also remembers the lost opportunity they had, when the CD skipped, and the moment was over. 

They meet up with Lance, the groom, who is a football star.  He has girls all over him, but he has pledged himself to Mia for life.  And he plans to keep that promise. 

At a card game between the four guys later that evening, the question of fidelity comes up.  The banter between the guys is pure and typical.  Exactly what would be heard in this situation.  It is so natural that I felt like I was spying on real people.  But it's obvious that Quentin, who appears not to realize that he is provoking Lance, knows something, and is testing the waters.  What exactly is left for the time being. 

But after that conversation, Harper discovers that Lance is reading the preview copy of his book, and he plans to take it away, at least until after the wedding. 

It takes Jordan a little longer to figure it out, but it becomes obvious that Quentin knew the exact relationships between the friends and the characters in the book.  What is making Harper so nervous is the fact that he slept with Mia, long ago.  She was tired of Lance's indiscretions, so was sad, angry, and wanted revenge.  So, in essence, she used him.  But Harper put it in his book!  Fool!

It all comes to a head at the bachelor party, when Lance is enjoying the strippers (the ones shown seemed pretty tame, especially for the guy who "had" two sets of twins when he was younger and even less of a star).  Harper steals the book, but Lance discovers it and steals it back.  Curious, he continues reading it, and finally comes to the sensitive part.  The lighting here is very funny.  As his anger builds, the light that shines onto his face turns more and more red. 

Lance assaults Harper, and almost throws him from the balcony of a very high building.  Quentin is the one who stops him from doing it.  But Lance calls off the wedding. 

It takes everything they have to get Lance back behind the altar.  In a moving scene, Harper kneels down with Lance to pray, acknowledging God for the first time.  This means something to Lance, who forgives his friend, even though he cannot forget. 

Meanwhile, Jordan wants to make up for the lost moment.  She wants to make love to Harper, just once, before Robin comes into town.  She is sorely disappointed when Harper shows up at her door with bruised ribs and a black eye. 

And all this shows Robin exactly where she stands when she does arrive.  She is upset with him, very upset, but becomes very forgiving when he makes her an offer she can't refuse -down on one knee in the middle of the dance floor!  Sort of takes away the spotlight from the bride and groom, but I can accept it. 

There is another subplot concerning Julian and his girlfriend, Shelby.  She has him wrapped around her finger, and has mastered the art of giving guilt trips.  Julian is strong (well, sort of) around Quentin, of all people.  And he finally realizes what he has been missing when he falls for one of the strippers at the bachelor party.  They discover that they have a bond, and she accompanies him to the wedding. 

So Julian learns a lesson, and Harper learns a very different lesson.  Lance learns a little about Mia, his bride, and about the acceptance of things past.  But I think the character who grew the most was the one we hated at first, Quentin.  He shows how attentive he actually is, behind the lazy exterior. 

All in all, wonderfully done.  There were a few over-the-top moments, but not many, at all.  Inspiring, and very, very fun.

 
   

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