Universal // 1999 // 121 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Harold Gervais (Retired) // March 6th, 2000
Some things are best left unsaid, or unwritten.
From writer/director Malcolm D. Lee comes an affecting little comedy about friendship and the ties that bind.
The Best Man is Harper Stewart (Taye Diggs). Life is good for Harper. His first novel is about to be published. He is in a comfortable two-year relationship and it is the weekend of the wedding of Lance (Morris Chesnut) and Mia (Monica Calhoun), two of his closest college friends.
The bad news is his novel is a thinly veiled account of his college years and an advance copy of the book has found it's way into the hands of another college friend, Jordan (Nia Long). Jordan has in turn read the book and passed it along to Harper's inncer circle of college freinds. The really bad news is now the advance copy is in the hands of the groom, Lance. And Lance will not be happy by what he reads.
The film has a kind of Big Chill quality and charm to it that works to its advantage. There is an easy understanding between the characters and one gets the feeling that these people really have known each other for years. Also, this is one of the only 'black' films that I have seen that does not draw attention to itself in that way. Outside of a certain degree of lingo, you could change the actors to 'white' people and the movie would not really change that much. This is not a 'black' comedy...it just happens to be a comedy that features 'black' actors.
The beauty of this movie is that it truly likes and cares about the people inhabiting it. There are no cheap jokes or sight gags. The humor develops from real situations and real characters. No Friday or House Party here. The film is well performed across the board although special mention needs to be made of Taye Diggs in the lead. Diggs perfectly captures the arrogence and the fear of commitment that makes the character of Harper work. Morris Chesnut is also quite good as the groom Lance. Lance is a star running back who is torn by his love for Mia and all the oppurtunies his "star" status provides. Mia really has become the rock in this world, his key to becoming a better man and Christian. When Lance finally gets to the chapter that Harper has been so afraid of him reading his entire world is shaken and nothing is on solid ground. Chesnut nails the sense of frustration of a man who all of a sudden finds his house is build on quicksand. Powerful stuff and again,none of it seems forced or pushed.
The film gets top-notch treatment from Universal Home Video. The transer is anamorphic and, while I noticed a slight degree of edge enhancement, it was nothing that really distracted. The colors are natural and solid, blacks are true. Everything being equal, it's a good picture.
While this is a dialogue driven film both the Dolby Digital and DTS 5.1 soundtrack get a nice little work-out from the rap and R & B score. It is well mixed for all five channels and the sub is discrete and effective. The only time I could really tell the difference between Dolby and DTS was in the music passages of the film. The DTS version is slighty warmer, giving the sound an almost fuller feel, in my opinion. It is very nice to see the care that certain studios are taking in regard to sound on their product. Universal being at the top of the class in this.
The Best Man also does very well in the extras department. I ncluded is a Universal Spotlight on Location, which is a behind-the-scenes look at the movie that features interviews with cast and crew. There is a Soundtrack Presentation includes a couple of music video's of songs in the movie and a bucketful of trailers. Extra material is rounded out by Production Notes,Cast and Filmakers talent files and DVD-ROM supplements.
I really enjoyed this film. I had zero expectations going into it and was really surprised. It's a good date flick and one that I would'nt mind watching again. At the very least,this is a very solid rental and if you like well-written comedy that does not talk down to it's audience,you might want to add it to your collection.
Writer/Director Malcolm D. Lee is released with high marks from the court and Universal is thanked once more for the strong and quaility product they put on the street. Case Dismissed!
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Scales of Justice
* 1.85:1 Anamorphic
* DTS 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
Running Time: 121 Minutes
Release Year: 1999
MPAA Rating: Rated R
* Spotlight on Location
* Production Notes
* Soundtrack Presentation
* Talent Bios
* Theatrical Trailer
* Special DVD-ROM Features
* Official Site