Main cast: Justin Long (Scott), Jess Weixler (Kristin), Addison Timlin (Ramsey), Shelley Long (Gail), Evan Jones (Winston), James Detmar (Uncle Willis), Jane Hammill (Aunt Helen), Sasha Andreev (Rick), Claudia Wilkens (Lumpy’s Mother), Frances O’Connor (Jaime), and Tyler Labine (Lumpy)
Director: Ted Koland
Scott and Kristin are getting married, and he is adamant that his best friend Lumpy will be the best man… even if Lumpy has a tendency to become a raving drunk, comes on to girls that are way too young at the wedding party, and generally ruins the mood. Shortly after his disastrous outing, Lumpy is found dead, his body lying over a cactus at the beach, of all things. Much to Kristin’s chagrin, Scott decides to postpone the honeymoon, spending the money they have saved up instead for the funeral. They also take a trip up north to look up and inform Lumpy’s friends and family about his death, only to learn that Lumpy had lied all along about his law school, his job, and more. Worse, they find his “girlfriend”: a fifteen-year old girl named Ramsey.
It’s a shame that Best Man Down has no idea whether it wants to be a dumb comedy or a sensitive drama, because by trying to be both, it ends up neither here nor there. There is a good, potentially heartwarming drama here: Ramsey is from a dysfunctional home which sees her mother’s new boyfriend trying to push her into buying the supplies for distributing the crystal meth he makes at their house, and she would do anything to get out of town. She’s a brilliant student, but is ostracized by her peers, and her only father figure – sort of – is the kindly neighborhood priest whom she blackmails now and then in exchange for her silence on his relationship with some guy from out of town. Incidentally, the priest is hot, because he’s played by Michael Landes.
Here’s the problem: Ramsey’s story would make a great movie. But she’s basically a B-plot, a reactive plot device for the tiresome and boring Scott and Kristin. The couple’s tedious post-nuptial drama, Scott’s stubborn fixation on making Lumpy his role model, Kristin’s mounting frustration at how her husband isn’t so easy to mould and shape into her ideal man… who cares about these things? If I had my way, the movie would be about Ramsey, Lumpy, and the poor priest whose name is never mentioned at all – Scott and Kristin can go hang for all I care.
The last half hour or so of this movie is pure saccharine pap, but it’s hard to see Lumpy as the stereotypical angelic dead guy whose passing changes everyone’s life archetype when he’s portrayed for cheap laughs in the first quarter or so of the movie. This movie is very bipolar – every time it forgets that it is a drama and aims instead of laughs typically to be had from slapstick raunchy sex comedies, it dishes out scenes that end up ruining what emotional buildup it had going for itself up to that point.
Best Man Down is ultimately a wasted opportunity. It has everything going for it to be a solid drama, but no, someone has the bright idea to also make it a dumb comedy. This is a movie that seemed to be directed by both Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and the payoff isn’t good enough to warrant the effort of sitting through this mess.