Nov 99: The Best Man

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by Kelly Glover
Written and Directed by: Malcolm D. Lee
Produced by: Spike Lee, Sam Kitt, Bill Carraro
Dir. of Photography: Frank Prinzi
Production Designer: Kalina Avanov
Composer: Stanley Clarke
Costume Designer: Danielle Hollowell
Cast: Taye Diggs, Morris Chestnut, Nia Long, Sanaa Lathan, Melissa De Sousa, Terrance Howard, Howard Perrineau Jr., Monica Calhoun


The movie starts with the very structured new author Harper Stewart (Taye Diggs) and his somewhat unsettled yet definitely supportive girlfriend Robin (Sanaa Lathan) celebrating the release of Harper's first book. Harper claims the book is not based on actual events. After the wedding of his best friend Lance (Morris Chestnut) and Mia (Monica Calhoun) he hopes they all read it. His plans are shifted when he arrives in New York to be the best man and discovers that thanks to his career-minded friend Jordan (Nia Long), not only have most of his friends read the appropriately titled "Unfinished Business," but they see themselves in the characters. This wouldn't be a huge problem except, one night Harper's trouble making friend Quentin (Terrence Howard) raises questions about infidelity among the soon-to-be-married couple. Now Harper's intuitive friends begin to piece together details in the book. Details Harper has been in denial about, details that could destroy trust, ruin relationships and ultimately stop the wedding.
Taye Diggs (How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Go, The Wood), isn't a sex-symbol in this movie and it allows you to concentrate on his acting abilities instead of trying to gauge how long until the shower scene.

We haven't seen Morris Chestnut (Boys in the Hood, G.I. Jane) in a leading movie role since '91 when Tre' and Doughboy carried his blood-soaked body into the house because he was too busy focusing on a scratch-and-win to avoid gunshots from some ruthless Bloods. Well, the years have definitely been kind because his character is a good-looking, ex-womanizing, football player who's madly in love with his college sweetheart and can't wait to become the perfect husband. He's also really excited about his best friend's book release and to show his support, he's going to do something he rarely has time to do...finish the book.

No matter if it's Lorenz, Mekhi, Shemar or Omar, Nia Long (In Too Deep, Soul Food) usually gets the fine male lead in the end. This role brings a welcome change and it's good to see her play a character dealing with being a "second fiddle" for once. Yes, she plays a beautiful, successful TV Producer who has the wardrobe many woman only dream about but, she's single and involuntarily celibate.

Sanaa Lathan, Terrence Howard, Monica Calhoun, Harold Perrineau and the ultimate overbearing girlfriend Melissa DeSousa humorously portray an essential supporting cast that keeps the audience attentive until the absolute end of the movie.

Sometimes you see a movie and you can't relate to any of the characters. You either close your eyes, wishing you were one of them or shake your head thanking God that you're not. In this film, every audience member will see a bit of themselves in at least one character.

This romantic comedy has great scenes that address issues often overlooked in movies containing all-Black casts. From the beginning there's a scene portraying intimacy without lots of grunting and unessential boob shots and a non-argumentative insight into the hesitation towards commitment. There are all-male scenes with key dialogue surrounding the hypocrisy of male vs. female infidelity and the peace of mind marriage brings. And, there's a scene that will definitely bring a laugh when Jordan (Nia Long) snaps as a result of a few too many tequila shots and the anticipated ending of her no-sex streak.

Ok, they could've given the sisters a lil' thigh airbrushing in the bachelor party scene (then again, perhaps that wouldn't have been realistic) and I would've appreciated a bachelor-ette party scene. Ha! More interaction between the female characters and getting more of Mia's and Jordan's views on family, infidelity, and other issues would've helped us get to know them a little better. Nonetheless, in my opinion, you definitely won't regret the price of admission for this one. From the excellent way all the characters wardrobes fit their personalities to the non-preachy but certainly spiritual undertone of the movie, The Best Man delivers.


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