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The Best Man

Starring Taye Diggs, Nia Long
Written and Directed by Malcolm D. Lee

IN SHORT: A Rockin' African-American targeted date flick. [Rated [R], 100 minutes]

We begin with Harper Stewart (Taye Diggs), a novelist just months away from the publication of "Unfinished Business," his first book. Based on his friends from college, the writing is so steamy that Oprah Winfrey wants to feature it in her book club. Not only does success beckon, so does his beautiful girlfriend Robin (Sanaa Lathan), a caterer whose business, too, is starting to take off. Three pending jobs is keeping her from journeying from Chicago to New York, for the wedding of two of Harper's friends. Truth of the matter is, they're his friends. Robin'll just catch up at the wedding. Besides, she's getting just a bit discouraged that her beau can't make the slightest move towards either commitment or saying those three little words.

Those friends, quickly, are: the groom, Lance (Morris Chestnut), a NFL running back (NY Giants) who has used his fame to great advantage with the ladies, if you know what I mean; his save it for the wedding night bride Mia (Monica Calhoun), who hasn't saved anything; Jordan Armstrong (Nia Long), Harper's woulda coulda shoulda but never did gal; career-phobic Quentin (Terrence Howard), who plays a mean guitar; equally career-phobic Murch (Harold Perrineau) who's staring down a six figure legal gig and his controlling bitch of a girlfriend Shelby (Melissa DeSousa), whom everyone in this group, save Murch, detests. With Robin away until the day of the wedding, Jordan determines that she's going to nail Harper, one way or the other.

The New York weekend means reunion for this crew. Thanks to a prepublication copy of Harper's book obtained, and circulated among all concerned, by teevee producer Jordan, old secrets come out in the open. Each real person sees themselves in the book's fictional characters and when the groom finally gets his turn, let's just say his eyes are opened to the fact that his virginal bride may not be. A joyful weekend escalates into something much more as the groom wants vengeance and each of the other single men get to reevaluate their own relationships.

That doesn't give anything away as writer/director Malcolm D. Lee fashions strong characters and the actors make you feel as if this group had indeed been friends for years. Then again, the African-American acting community isn't a very large one so they may actually be friends. And, yes, I may be a middle aged white guy who ears can't follow the vocal rhythms; I didn't catch half the lingo, but there's enough here that when push came to shove and the film hit its edge of the seat climax -- I know, for a comedy that's a bit of a stretch to imagine, but that's what it was -- I was there, baby.

On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Eight Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to The Best Man, he would have paid...


Much better than the average dateflick. The Best Man is not the kind of African-American targeted movie that may not be accessible enough to white audiences to cross over big time, but I'm an old fogey. The kidlets who speak in rap rhythms may get this with no problem. With dating couples all around me, and running commentary on the action from all of 'em (there are advantages to sitting with "real" people), The Best Man wasn't hard to follow. Just watching the crowd, as I've done at other A-A starring flicks, left me with the impression that this is bigger and better than the average flick targeted at them.

Click to buy films starring Nia Long
Click to buy films starring Taye Diggs

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