The beauty of this movie is that it truly likes and cares about the people inhabiting it. There are no cheap jokes or sight gags. The humor develops from real situations and real characters starting with Harper Stewart (Taye Diggs). Life is good for Harper. His first novel is about to be published. He is in a comfortable two-year relationship and it is the weekend of the wedding of Lance (Morris Chesnut) and Mia (Monica Calhoun), two of his closest college friends. The bad news is his novel is a thinly veiled account of his college years and an advance copy of the book has found it's way into the hands of another college friend, Jordan (Nia Long). Jordan has in turn read the book and passed it along to Harper's inncer circle of college freinds. The really bad news is now the advance copy is in the hands of the groom, Lance. And Lance will not be happy by what he reads.
The film is well performed across the board although special mention needs to be made of Taye Diggs in the lead. Diggs perfectly captures the arrogance and the fear of commitment that makes the character of Harper work. Morris Chesnut is also quite good as the groom Lance. Lance is a star running back who is torn by his love for Mia and all the oppurtunies his "star" status provides. Mia really has become the rock in this world, his key to becoming a better man and Christian. When Lance finally gets to the chapter that Harper has been so afraid of him reading his entire world is shaken and nothing is on solid ground. Chesnut nails the sense of frustration of a man who all of a sudden finds his house is build on quicksand. Powerful stuff and again, none of it seems forced or pushed. The victory for virtue as defined by this film, however, is not easy and does not rely on conventional finger waging notions and stereotypes. In fact, the most interesting and best acted character is Quentin (Terrence Dashon Howard). He slyly and wisely presents the argument that we are not meant to be monogamous, but he is consistent in not expecting men and women to live by a double standard. He is in many ways correctly cynical about all of his friends and the rest of us. It is a testament to confident story telling when a character presents a contradictory position so well. In addition, Quentin is hilariously madcap with his quips.
When we finally get to the wedding and hear the vows of the groom and bride as a celebration of their commitment and union, the movie literally blooms with sweetness and beauty. This may sound corny, but when it is well done as it was here, we have insatiable appetites for seeing people face their selfish expectations and hypocrisy to become true partners in love and life. It is of note that Spike Lee's company produced this movie. Apparently, the able writer-director, Malcolm D. Lee, is a relative. The setting is affluent, literate, intelligent, success driven, neurotically yuppie and entirely African-American. (We don't recall seeing a white face on the screen.) In this, Best Man offers a refreshing and powerful diversion from the heaviness of urban blight and racial oppression as the world of blacks on film. As real as these phenomena are, blacks are diverse in their accomplishments and social strata.