The Best Man (1999)

The Best Man
Director: Malcolm D. Lee
Writer: Malcolm D. Lee
Cast: Taye Diggs, Nia Long, Morris Chestnut, Harold Perrineau, Terrence Howard, Sanaa Lathan, Monica Calhoun, Melissa De Sousa, Regina Hall

Plot:
Harper (Taye Diggs) is about to publish his autobiographical novel dealing with his time in college. But first there’s a different trip to the past he takes: his best friend from that time, Lance (Morris Chestnut) is getting married to his college sweetheart Mia (Monica Calhoun) and Harper’s the best man. So he travels to New York, leaving his girlfriend Robin (Sanaa Lathan) to join him later in the week. Which gives him the opportunity to reconnect with his friend and missed romantic connection from college Jordan (Nia Long).

The Best Man is interesting because it actually isn’t all that interesting at all: despite being a film that has both race and gender turned on the genre conventions’ head (since RomComs of this kind are usually targeted at and played by white women), it plays out pretty much exactly the same as what we’re used to. Which, from a cinematic pov, isn’t very captivating, but from a sociological pov, there’s much to dissect.

The_Best_Man

If I compare the movie at face value to other RomComs, I have to admit that I connected with other movies more than with this one. It was sweet, yes, but it wasn’t awesome. It didn’t give me goosebumps. And I had issues with Harold Perrineau’s character Julian, or rather his relationships: his girlfriend controls and manipulates him and there she doesn’t get any more characterization than that, so when he’s an asshole to her, we’re supposed to cheer. I also thought that that he falls in love with a stripper was extremely cliché, though at least they handled it okay and there’s even an Audre Lorde quote to make it all better.

The cast ws absolutely excellent though and especially the guys got really nice characters to play (with). It was fun to watch such an ensemble.

The_Best_Man1

If you just consider the story own, it’s pretty much seen that, heard that before and that’s nothing new. But as I said, under the circumstances that’s exactly what makes this film so extraordinary: it’s not a black film. It’s not a movie for the guys. It just so happens that the cast is black and that it’s about dudes. Which is not to say that it doesn’t discuss such things as feminism and racism. But it’s not a film about that.

In short, there’s a lot to look at in this film, precisely because these things are not in the foreground but permeate everything. I just wish it was a better movie, entertainment-wise.

The_Best_Man2

Summarising: despite cinematic flaws, very much worth watching.

6 thoughts on “The Best Man (1999)

  1. 1) Here is a link for you, thought you might like the pictures. They show women “turned into men” by social ritual in Albania.
    http://www.zeit.de/gesellschaft/2013-06/fs-sworn-virgins-hristova-2

    If I was an idle rich person I’d research this and write something very cool about it in my if-I-was-rich-customs-book.

    2) I’ve seen a few episodes of teen wolf. A bit of season 2 and season 3, haven’t seen season 1 or the first part of season 2 yet.
    Nice stuff. And Daniel Sharman(? Isaac) is hot (oh, there’s so much hotness and clever repartee <3)

  2. “there are so man pretty people” –> freudian slip :)
    nice tumblrtags. Omg, Daniel Sharman is hot and sweet and cool, depending on the photo. How does he even do that?… I don’t get all the fandom yet (serial killer? huh?), maybe I need more time, maybe it just isn’t my cup of tea.
    The series is great entertainment without any infuriating/annoying things (like patriarchic stereotypes, foreseeable plots etc).
    1) I knew you’d find it interesting. :)

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