Steve Daly
October 29, 1999 AT 04:00 AM EDT

The Best Man (Movie - 1999)

type
Movie
Current Status
In Season
mpaa
R
runtime
125 minutes
performer
Taye Diggs, Nia Long, Morris Chestnut, Regina Hall, Harold Perrineau, Sanaa Lathan
director
Malcolm Lee
distributor
MCA, Universal
author
Malcolm Lee
genre
Drama, Comedy

We gave it a C+

While first-time writer-directors all around him aspire to maximum grit, Malcolm D. Lee pours on the gee-whiz cheer in The Best Man, a wedding-weekend reunion story, coproduced by his cousin Spike. The trigger for a predictable round of arguments, fistfights, and shack-ups is the barely fictionalized first novel that Harper Stewart (Taye Diggs) has published just as he joins his old college pals to see one of them hitched. To his consternation, he finds they’ve skimmed the book already and are less than pleased; in the patently expository words of one friend, ”You’ve always analyzed everybody else’s s — -, but you never do that for yourself.”

Leaning heavily on handsomely lit close-ups of a cast that includes Nia Long, Morris Chestnut, and Oz’s Harold Perrineau, Lee moves from airport arrival to reception-hall line dance in a style that’s always clothing-catalog pretty, even when the guys trade howlingly nasty ideas about professional women. Says the football-star groom of the TV-producer maid of honor, ”Let’s face it, a woman like that don’t need no man. She’s one step from lesbian.” It’s a tribute to the actors’ appeal that they can sling this hash and keep our sympathies, but they can’t squeeze much drama from pure soap. C+

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