The Best Man (1999)
Main cast: Taye Diggs (Harper), Sanaa Lathan (Robin), Nia Long (Jordan), Morris Chestnut (Lance), Terrence Dashin Howard (Quentin), and Harold Perrineau (Murch)
Director: Malcolm D Lee

This movie is so obviously cloned like its predecessors Waiting To Exhale and How Stella Got Her Groove Back, but without great lead characters, the film will sink. In The Best Man, the best scenes go to two minor players, Murch and Quentin, and both have minimal screen time. Uh oh.

Meet the commitment-shy men and the saintly women who put up with them. Harper is a novelist whose Advanced Reading Copy of his new autobiographical novel is threatening the upcoming marriage between dumb lug Lance and airy-headed wife-to-be. Murch is being henpecked by his demanding and manipulative girlfriend, and Quentin doesn't know if he wants to irritate everyone and be everyone's best buddy. They all get together for the pre-wedding preparation, and honey, when Jordan, a workaholic BET producer, meets Harper (they came this close to doing it in college), Harper forgets his girlfriend of two years Robin almost immediately.

I can't stand Harper, a block of wood played with little human emotion by Diggs. Harper is condescending, smug, and has no qualms in sleeping with just about anybody regardless of his prior commitments to his friends or lovers. He once slept with Lance's wife-to-be, which he ruefully admits is a mistake, but that doesn't stop him from agreeing with Jordan's proposal for a one night stand now when Robin is coming down the next day. Nice. Lance sleeps around left and right, but goes beserk at the thought of his wife not "being his first and last and only", and his wife is no better - a sickly sweet woman who gushes greeting card lovey-dovey statements to puking point. And Jordan is as interesting as mud.

But I adore Quentin, Robin, and Murch. Murch has a somewhat moving start-of-a-relationship with an exotic dancer, while Quentin, that naughty boy, is pretty funny and hilarious. The other big lugs are no match for Quentin's razor-sharp wit. And Robin proves that as the wronged woman, she is stronger than the two blocks of wood that are Harper and Jordan.

The director and scriptwriter Lee (cousin of Spike, by the way) plays too fast and loose with infidelity that is too easily shrugged off for comfort. With Harper as the most boring and emotionless leading man ever, TBM doesn't have much of a chance.

Rating: 53

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