The Best Man

 
(i)

 

Entertaining romantic drama ponders commitment, fidelity.
  • Review Date: February 19, 2013
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Drama
  • Release Year: 1999
  • Running Time: 121 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Honesty is the best policy, because secrets have a way of coming out, sometimes even years later. And the longer they are buried, the worse the revelations. Lots of discussion of marriage, fidelity, and double standards.

Positive role models

Harper is hiding something from his longtime friend, a secret that could destroy an upcoming marriage. He tries to hide the truth, but it eventually comes out, and he has to scramble to find a way to make it right. He's also hiding things from himself -- his true feelings for a woman from his past -- and it's keeping him from committing to his current girlfriend. He's a good person, and tries to do the right thing, but he can't resolve any of these issues until he's able to be honest, with himself, his friends and his girlfriend.

Violence

When old secrets emerge, old friends are suddenly at each other's throats as two heated arguments turn into knock-down brawls that leave black eyes and bloody noses.

Sex

Old friends discuss their sexual histories in talks that range from raunchy ribbing to serious conversations about gender roles and fidelity. One man is well-known for his conquests even though he's about to be married, but he won't even tolerate the idea that his fiance has ever been with another man. Some scenes feature women in their underwear or lingerie, including a bachelor party sequence that includes strippers, but there's no nudity.

Language

A good bit of swearing in everyday conversation, including "s--t," "ass," "bitch," "whore," "d--k," and the F-word. Black characters frequently refer to each other using racially charged terms, including "mandingo" and the N-word.

Consumerism

A few well-known entertainers are mentioned by name, including Oprah Winfrey and Stevie Wonder. Some scenes show men drinking Miller beer.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Men smoke cigarettes and drink beer while playing poker. A bachelor party scene includes many people drinking heavily and getting pretty wasted. Other scenes show people drinking champagne at a wedding or wine at home.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that The Best Man is a well-made romantic comedy that goes a bit deeper than most, tackling issues of fidelity, gender roles, double standards, and honesty. Race, for the most part is ignored, even though the cast is almost exclusively African American. There are some intense arguments, with a few that escalate into fistfights, and plenty of swearing (including the F-word and the N-word). Some people smoke and even more drink, especially at a raunchy bachelor party. There are several explicit discussions about sex, and some scenes feature women in lingerie, but there's no actual nudity.

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What's the story?

Harper (Taye Diggs) is thrilled that his novel is about to be published just as he reunites with old friends to be THE BEST MAN at a wedding. The friends are eager to read the book, and quickly realize it's a barely-fictionalized version of Harper's life, and they're all in it. The book is filled with long-buried secrets that threaten some friendships, including one long-ago night that Harper shared with a female friend, an incident that might derail the wedding.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

Writer-director Malcolm D. Lee has put together a romantic comedy that feels real. Unlike so many cliched rom-coms, this one has a central conflict that doesn't seem contrived, and he lays the foundation with some early discussions about fidelity and double standards. Lance (Morris Chestnut), the groom, is a pro football star who regularly steps out on his fiance Mia, but won't even tolerate the idea that she's ever been with another guy. His attitude sets the stage for a third-act conflict when he discovers that Mia once shared a night with Harper.

Lee shows Lance struggling with this realization, agonizing about whether to go through with the wedding and how to deal with his feelings of betrayal, from his fiance and his friend. Chestnut makes this chauvinist into a real person, though with some outdated ideas of marriage. And Diggs' take on Harper reveals a man with a few issues of his own, including a fear of committment that's about to scuttle his own relationship. But they manage to learn from these flaws, in ways that feel painful and honest, and make the film stand out in sea of hokey romance flicks.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the movie's messages about marriage and relationships. What do you think about Lance's expectations for his fiance? Are they realistic? Does he have a double standard?

  • How does this movie portray African American culture? Do you expect a movie with a majority black cast to deal with race? Would you expect that from a movie with mostly white characters?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 14, 1999
DVD release date:February 29, 2000
Cast:Harold Perrineau, Morris Chestnut, Nia Long, Taye Diggs, Terrence Howard
Director:Malcolm D. Lee
Studio:Universal Studios
Genre:Drama
Topics:Friendship
Run time:121 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:language and sexuality

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