Best Man Down

Directed by: Ted Koland

Starring: Justin Long, Jess Weixler, Tyler Labine, Addison Timlin, Shelley Long, and Frances O’Connor

Happy belated New Year movie lovers!  I am delighted to return to the movie review scene after a brief holiday hiatus.  My first review of 2014 is Justin Long’s indie flick Best Man Down.  Although billed as a dark comedy, this uneven film is at times touching, but never humorous.

Scott (Long) and Kristin (Jess Weixler) are having the time of their lives at their destination wedding in Arizona.  Much to Kristin’s chagrin, however, Scott’s lifelong pal and best man Lumpy (Tyler Labine) is being obnoxious.  Lumpy has fallen into the wedding “open bar” trap and has become ridiculously intoxicated.  Scott, however, defends his best friend.  Scott knows that Lumpy has a good heart.  Unbeknownst to Kristin, Lumpy helped pay for their wedding and honeymoon.  As the reception winds down, Lumpy drunkenly leaves and after a series of mishaps, he ends up dead in a field outside of the hotel.

Scott is stunned and devastated at his friend’s sudden passing.  Kristin tries to be sympathetic, but when Scott postpones their honeymoon to plan Lumpy’s funeral, the bride cannot contain her upset and disappointment.  The tense couple heads back to the Midwest to make funeral arrangements.  As they begin to look into Lumpy’s last days, they discover that Lumpy has been keeping secrets about his life, his work, his health and a special friend named Ramsey (Addison Timlin).

Ramsey is a teenager trapped in a dysfunctional nightmare.  Ramsey’s mother Jaime (Frances O’Connor) appears to love her daughter.  However, between working long hours and doing drugs with her loser boyfriend Winston (Evan Jones), Jaime has little time for Ramsey.  As Scott and Kristin search for Lumpy’s friends, they are ultimately led to Ramsey’s front door and into her life.

Best Man Down is an interesting movie.  The mistake the filmmakers made is that they billed this film as a dark comedy.  However, there are zero laughs in Best Man Down, and the film has faced considerable critical backlash.  Stories about death, crystal meth, and dysfunctional families can be humorous, but the script here does not contain any dry humor or create any genuinely funny moments.  Even the interactions between Shelley Long and the newlywed couple that were clearly intended to be funny failed to deliver, and the “dinner table” scenes were simply awkward and painful to watch.  Thus, any moviegoer who goes to view Best Man Down looking for a laugh will be terribly disappointed.

If you look at Best Man Down as more of a dramatic film, then you will find it more satisfying.  Weixler’s and Long’s newlywed couple tension is not overly interesting.  However, Addison Timlin’s Ramsey has a compelling story.  She is stuck in a dysfunctional family with a mom who is too self-absorbed to see the toxic environment to which she is exposing her daughter.  Ramsey has complex relationships with all of the adults in her life, including a priest and ultimately Lumpy.  Ramsey’s tale and her decency despite her circumstances drive the film, and are surprisingly touching.

Best Man Down fails as a comedy, but it does have winning moments as a drama.  Best Man Down earns a 0.09% rating.  Have a French martini with this one.