THE BEST MAN
Starring: Taye Diggs, Nia Long, Morris
Chestnut, Harold Perrineau,
Terrence Howard, Sanaa Lathan,
Monica Calhoun, & Melissa De
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Runtime: 120 minutes
Distributor: Universal Pictures
Director: Malcolm D. Lee
Producer: Spike Lee, Sam Kitt & Billa
Writer: Malcolm D. Lee
Address Comments To:
Taye Diggs of HOW STELLA GOT HER GROOVE BACK plays Harper, who is the best man for the wedding of his friend, Lance Sullivan. Lance is now a superstar athlete for the National Football League. Much to his chagrin, Harper learns that his friends are passing around an advanced copy of his book, UNFINISHED BUSINESS, a thinly-disguised, steamy memoir of their college days. Harper is afraid that Lance will find out he had a one night stand with Lance's future fiancé, Mia, when she found out that Lance was cheating on her with all the college floozies who showered Lance with attention when he was a star athlete in college.
One of the spins to this story is that Lance was, and still is, a committed Christian who tries to get his agnostic friend Harper to acknowledge God. Happily, Lance recognizes the hypocrisy in his past lifestyle. In one flashback to their college years, Lance asks Harper to read the Bible with him and pray so that Lance can restore his broken relationship with God. Another spin is that Harper is anxious to sleep with his female friend Jordan, one of the bridesmaids. A highly motivated professional like Harper, Jordan works for Black Entertainment Television. One night in college, Jordan and Harper had nearly slept together, so both she and he now wonder if they can make a go of it while Harper's in New York City, even though Harper has a girlfriend named Robin in Chicago.
During the bachelor party Saturday night, Lance finds out what happened between Mia and Harper. After tossing Harper around the room, and nearly off the balcony, he calls off the wedding. This interrupts Jordan and Harper's planned tryst. Harper must now decide how to get the wedding back on track. He must also decide whether to choose Jordan or Robin, who's flying to New York on Sunday.
THE BEST MAN is a slick, entertaining romp that, despite lots of strong foul language and sexual immorality, comes to a satisfying ending that extols the virtues of religious commitment and marriage. The positive ending nearly saves the rest of the movie. For example, one character quotes from Paul's definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13, and another character says there is nothing greater than love "because God is love." Another line of dialogue during the ending is the glorious admonition to "love one another as God loves us." Although Harper and the filmmakers sometimes mock Lance's Christian beliefs in an obnoxious fashion in the earlier part of the movie, the resolution of the story validates those beliefs. In fact, Harper urges Lance to pray to God about the wedding before he tells Mia that he wants to cancel it. Even Harper's sexually promiscuous and cynical friend, Quentin, sheds a tear when wedding vows are spoken. Their other friend, the earnest Murch, appears to reform one of the semi-nude dancers, Candy, when he invites her to the wedding.
Before the positive ending, however, there is the bachelor party, where the strong sexual nature of the semi-nude dancing includes many close-ups of nearly total rear female nudity. Obviously, the filmmakers think there is a market for such vulgar sexuality, especially when it's done to a tuneful beat, but this kind of attitude has led to lots of heartache and turmoil in society. The semi-nude dancing adds immensely to the strength of the movie's sexuality and nudity ratings. THE BEST MAN also includes abundant foul language, including many uses of the "f" word as well as five strong profanities. If the movie's well-known producer, Spike Lee (DO THE RIGHT THING), had as much real intelligence or social sensitivity as he claims to have, he would not have allowed such dangerous, sordid material to see the light of day.
All of that does not dilute the talent of the cast, however. The lead actors and their supporting colleagues perform extremely well. Terrence Howard almost steals the show as Quentin, but Taye Diggs makes a nice lead, especially when he's battling Morris Chestnut as Lance. Helping to deliver the goods among the women are Nia Long as Jordan, Sanaa Lathan as Robin and especially Monica Calhoun as Mia. Calhoun's straightforward honesty shines through her warm eyes. Lathan plays a crucial role in the movie's happy, morally uplifting ending. Without a strong performance from her at that point, the movie would have been less entertaining.
Because of its strong pro-Christian ending, THE BEST MAN does not deserve to be placed within MOVIEGUIDE's "Hollywood Babylon" section. However, its abundant foul language, sexual references and pornographic semi-nude dancing clearly earn THE BEST MAN a big red flag of extreme caution, even for adults.