I wasn’t expecting much when I settled in to watch Best Man Down and while that isn’t the best way to begin a movie review, it is the one I am going with because it is the truth.
The movie opens at the wedding of Scott (Justin Long) and Kristin (Jess Weixler), who decided to get married in Arizona even though they are from Minnesota. As happens at most weddings, someone gets drunk. That someone is the best man Lumpy (Tyler Labine), and well, one drink leads to another and less than ten minutes into the movie, Lumpy is dead. And Scott has to cancel the honeymoon and return to Minnesota to plan his oldest friend’s funeral.
Both Mr. Long and Mr. Labine are better known for their appearances in comedies but Best Man Down is not a comedy–don’t let the trailer fool you into thinking it might even go there, which is not to say that it is humourless. This is a sensitively-written, well-cast, well-acted drama about a newly-wed couple trying to do the right thing, and a young woman whose connection to them and Lumpy will explain itself as the film progresses.
This young woman named Ramsey (Addison Timlin, pictured above) holds the key to unlocking the mystery of who Lumpy was because as Scott soon learns, he didn’t really know his friend very well, especially not in the year preceding his untimely death. Ms. Timlin–whom most people will probably recognize from her stint on the TV series Californication–delivers a finely nuanced performance that truly makes the character of Ramsey seem like a 15-year-old who is wise beyond her years. It is a shame this movie hasn’t been more widely seen or else I am confident she would be in consideration for some of the juicier parts available to young women with acting ability in Hollywood.
Mr. Labine doesn’t get a lot of screen time but his performance in the flashback scenes is another revelation, especially for those who might only have ever seen him perform some version of Overweight-And-Belligerent-Fratboy.
Final Analysis: Writer-director Ted Koland has handled his story with a light touch and even though there can be some grousing about the neat little bow that Best Man Down is finally tied together with, the movie has a lot going for it. There are too many movies which run way longer than 89 minutes and end up revealing far less character. I was pleasantly surprised by Best Man Down.
My Advice: Seek this one out and watch it without cynicism.