I didn't know what to expect going into "The Best Man" and while I was watching it, I found myself enjoying it greatly. Spike Lee's cousin Malcolm has put together a great cast and manages to keep this romantic comedy lively and entertaining throughout the running time. The film stars Taye Diggs(who was also excellent in this year's "Go") as Harper Stewart, a young writer who's new book has just been chosen for Oprah's book-of-the-month club. On his way to being the best man at a friend's wedding though, all of his old friends somehow get their hands on an advance copy of the novel. While reading it, they find that the events of the book are quite similar to the events of their lives years ago.
Hanging out with his old friends, Murch (Harold Perrineau Jr.); Quentin (Terrence Dashon Howard) and Lance (Morris Chestnut), who is the groom. Also there for the wedding is the girl Harper almost had a relationship with, played by Nia Long. Again, Lee has brought together a wonderful cast, and it helps as well that the dialogue he has written is excellent. The characters are fully realized, complex, and things don't always happen as expected in this story, which is a plus and kept me interested in what was going to happen next. The little bit of drama in the film is mixed in perfectly with the comedic moments as well. The film's strongest aspect is the comedy - there are a number of scenes that are memorably funny. Above it all though, the film generally has a sweet nature as well as a good deal of energy, which helps it even further.
"The Best Man" isn't always flawless, but I was pleased with how well and how smartly the film looks at relationships and life. I liked all of the performances and the film is very charming. The film is about two hours and I enjoyed spending that time with all of the various characters. A great debut from writer/director Malcolm Lee and a very pleasant suprise.
VIDEO: After a few so-so presentations from Universal like "The Story Of Us", they've done a really solid job with the transfer of "The Best Man". Anamorphic and presented in the film's 1.85:1 original aspect ratio, it's a very smooth and film-like image that remains impressively sharp throughout the picture. Colors are absolutely perfect, looking warm and beautiful as well as nicely saturated. Flesh tones are perfect as well, looking very natural.
I really didn't notice any flaws that were distracting, such as shimmering or pixelation. There are a great many positives about the image quality, which looks fantastic throughout. A great job by Universal.
SOUND: Although a lot of the movie, as with any romantic film like this, is simply dialogue driven. But there's a bit more than the usual here with the wonderful sounding score of R&B and rap tunes. Not only do they envelop the listener nicely, they contain their fare share of bass. I really can't say enough good things about how excellent the score sounds - it succeeds greatly in filling the room with music. Dialogue has absolutely no problems, sounding very clear and remaining easily understood.
MENUS:: Although the main menu isn't animated, the score playing behind the menu is a nice touch.
EXTRAS: Although I would have liked to have heard a commentary, there are a handful of good extras included on this DVD release:
Trailers: In the "Universal Showcase" section there is a trailer for director Rob Cohen's upcoming teen thriller "The Skulls"; the "Recommendations" section has trailers for "Clockers", "Do The Right Thing", "EDTV", "Friends and Lovers" and "Notting Hill". Of course, there's also the trailer for "The Best Man".
Spotlight On Location: An above-average and very enjoyable 15-minute or so documentary that takes a behind-the-scenes look at the production of "The Best Man" and also offers quite a few interviews with the cast and crew that really do give a better idea of the concepts and ideas that went into the story. We also learn about the work that director Malcolm Lee did to put this movie together - I really enjoyed listening to the director's comments on this documentary and it's unfortunate that he didn't contribute a commentary because I think he'd have a lot of information to offer.
Also: Music videos from Ginuwine and Maxwell, along with production notes, cast/crew bios and DVD-ROM behind-the-scenes features.
Final Thoughts: A very enjoyable movie and a fine job by Universal on the DVD. Recommended.