Best Man, Worst Friend (2005) / Comedy-Romance
aka The Best Man
MPAA Rated: Not rated, but probably PG-13 for language and sexual references
Running Time: 92 min.
Cast: Stuart Townsend, Amy Smart, Seth Green, Steve John Shepherd, Kate Ashfield, Anna Chancellor, Simon Callow (cameo)
Director: Stefan Schwartz
Screenplay: Ed Roe, Stefan Schwartz
Review published July 7, 2006
Stuart Townsend (The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Shade) reunites with Shooting Fish writer-director Stefan Schwartz (The Abduction Club, Soft Top Hard Shoulder) for another romantic comedy in The Best Man (also called Best Man, Worst Friend on US television). Like many romantic comedies, it's routine and highly predictable, with contrivances and coincidences that are only overcome with good laughs and cast chemistry. Despite a capable cast, the laughs are mostly absent, no matter how many cute and cheeky characters they throw into the mix.
Townsend stars as struggling writer and out-and-out klutz Olly Pickering, who receives a wedding invitation from an old college chum named James (Shepherd, Virtual Sexuality), along with a request to be James's best man. Olly, suffering from interminable writers block, can't find the right words for the speech, especially since he is no longer close to James, and certainly knows nothing about his bride-to-be. It just so happens that the great gal he meets and falls for at James's party turns out to be his fiancé, Sarah (Smart, The Butterfly Effect). Olly is unsettled by his feelings, which are picked up on by Olly's porn-monger roommate and true best friend, Murray (Green, Without a Paddle), who secretly tries to sabotage the engagement by making James out to be a philandering cad, and to give Olly the opportunity to make his move on Sarah.
Cobbled together from at least a dozen other romantic comedies, many of them not much better than The Best Man, this is a strictly by-the-numbers rom-com that will likely only please the most ardent fans of any of the film's stars. Set in London, although mostly filmed in Hungary, this is an odd mix of varying personalities and nationalities, none of whom really click together to generate any real feeling of characters or sense of liking for one another other than what the shallow script affords them.
It tries to be cute, but it's too ordinary to think anything special. It tries to be bawdy, but with a lack of daring, it is never inspired. It tries to be romantic, but with characters this bland, it's hard to actually care. It tries to be so many things, but the one thing it never tries to be is truly original.
The Best Man is about a writer that doesn't know what to write anymore once he gets the first couple of chapters out of the way. How ironic that the film doesn't seem to go anywhere after the initial set-up. The character of James is chided for being completely disinterested in anything that has to do with films (except for his weird obsession for Top Gun). If only the writers of this derivative piece could have also been less keenly aware of every other movie in the romantic comedy genre, so they wouldn't have had the impulse to crib from them so heavily. The Best Man is the worst kind of comedy -- the kind that produces more yawns than laughs.
©2006 Vince Leo