Best Man Down

Best Man Down is the debut film of writer/director Ted Koland  and stars Justin Long, Tyler Labine, Jess Weixler, Addison Timlin, Frances O'Connor and Shelley Long.
It has a Jason Reitman directed, tragi/comedy vibe similar to a 'Young Adult' or an 'Up in the Air' and, like those films, the protagonists do a lot of traveling around nondescript mid-western towns.

In the case of Best Man Down, the plot synopsis is this:
"When their obnoxious and over-served best man, Lumpy (Labine) unexpectedly dies at their destination wedding in Phoenix, bride and groom Kristin (Weixler) and Scott (Long) are forced to cancel their honeymoon and fly home to the snowy Midwest to arrange for his funeral. But when they arrive they realize that there was a lot more to their friend than met the eye."
Basically, wouldn't you know it, that Jack Black-like annoying best friend really had a heart of gold and was practically a saint!

Honking cliches aside, this film isn't bad. It's ok. It's serviceably shot, well acted and pretty decently scripted. It has a few things to say and plenty of emotion, some occasional humour and even a couple of simple twists.

These stories of supposedly realistic, average folk learning true values from a confluence of unfortunate events, in bleak mid west surroundings, are fine and everything but I am never quite sure who they're made for or why anyone would choose to write this story this way.
There are some good observations on the nature of male friendships, a nice comment on what people perceive and who people really are and some ok parallels made between different characters' drug taking, that, ultimately, seem to be marginalised subplots that go nowhere.
However this is not deep riveting drama, it's not even overblown melodrama, the language in the movie is not rich, stylised, different or poetic, it's not continuously funny enough to be a black comedy and it's not profound or observational enough to be truly worth something.
It's just people, played well, doing stuff with some humour, some emotion and some almost interesting motivation.

I will say this: the concept is solid. The idea of a best man dying on a couple's wedding day and that couple coming to terms with who they are as they help to sort out his funeral instead of be on their honeymoon? that's good. It's a nice frame work for a decent story and if it appeals to you then you'll love this film. There's nothing about the direction, script, acting or anything that ruins that pitch. It pretty much plays out as you would expect. It's just never going to light anyone on fire or dazzle but it tells its story in a charming enough way and the pacing never really drags.

Relative newcomer Addison Timlin is very pleasing in the role of Ramsey, even if the role itself is simply that of 'young girl with a big heart and wisdom beyond her years' she manages to play it sincerely and with a cheeky rebellious streak that makes you worry about and root for her.

BEST MAN DOWN opens in select theatres on Friday, November 8
 and is now available on iTunes/OnDemand:


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