Best Man Down Blu-ray Review
As we all grow older we lose touch with friends, even those we still hold closest to our hearts. Sometimes it is distance, sometimes direction in life, and sometimes it is simply the choices we make day-to-day that cause this to happen. I tend to believe that friendships are elliptical in nature – they may move closer or further away from your primary circle through your life but it is our job to keep the loop closed, to make sure they swing back around as we grow. This is the deeply personal but universal theme at the heart of BEST MAN DOWN, a phenomenal film just released on Blu-ray that hit the indy circuit in 2012.
BEST MAN DOWN is outwardly a dark comedy. Scott (Justin Long) gets married. Best Man “Lumpy” (Tyler Labine) dies at the wedding destination after embarrassing the entire wedding party. Life is thrown into chaos while Scott tries to coordinate the funeral (instead of the honeymoon) for the man he slowly realizes he barely knows anymore. Along the way we get to deal with some other general issues; Scott’s wife appears to be addicted to various anti-depressant medications, communication issues and conflict avoidance between our newlyweds, and a strange relationship between Lumpy and a young girl named Ramsey (the phenomenal Addison Timlin) all bring us deeper into the lives of these characters.
BEST MAN DOWN doesn’t necessarily bring anything new to the genre, which is a little bit disappointing. But the acting more than makes up for the sometimes-saccharine sweetness and various clichés included in the writing, so I can’t lay the blame entirely at the feet of writer/director Ted Koland. In his freshman feature outing he conveys some very heartfelt messages with candor and authenticity while only occasionally falling into traditional family dramedy tropes.
Part of the reason I place so much value on the acting in BEST MAN DOWN is simple – Did any of you know Justin Long can be really good? I mean, I’ve seen many of his films and I enjoy a lot of them, but I never think of him as the go-to guy for an emotional piece. He completely proves me wrong with this film, turning in a great performance that I honestly would put in my top 10 of the whole year. Additionally, newcomer Addison Timlin (formerly of Broadway fame) is a revelation (to use a cliché… sorry guys). She is beautiful with a rock solid exterior but she conveys, authentically, the feelings of someone who is always looking over her shoulder, waiting for the next shoe to drop.
Their performances are my favorites in BEST MAN DOWN, but Tyler Labine as Lumpy and Jess Weixler as Kristin (Scott’s wife) are both very good in their roles as well. Even Frances O’Connor (BEDAZZLED, 2000), who plays Ramsey’s mother (and drug addict) Jaime, is serviceable despite being given nothing more than a clichéd shred of a character. The rest of the supporting cast is fine with some solid performers mixed with a few rocky ones. My only real problem with the movie is in its reliance on cliché. Does everyone have to be so perfectly damaged? Do all the pieces have to fit together just so?
Regardless, I want to be clear that I very much enjoyed this movie. For its flaws BEST MAN DOWN is a very solid independent film and I’m actually surprised it didn’t get more run when it was in theaters. If you like solid dark comedies with a healthy dose of family drama, BEST MAN DOWN is certainly for you. And if you, like me, don’t really think of Justin Long as anything other than that guy from the Mac commercials (interchangeable with ‘that kid from DODGEBALL) you should definitely check this one out. It makes me really long for his next big role.
BEST MAN DOWN BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: (1080p Widescreen 2.35:1) The video presentation of BEST MAN DOWN is missing something, a crucial sharpness that most Blu-rays possess. It won’t take you out of the story but could be much more crisp.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) The audio is very well done, a nice sound mix accompanies the score for a nice overall sound that brings you along.
Outtakes (05:47) This is actually one of the better outtakes reels I’ve seen in a while. If you liked BEST MAN DOWN you should definitely check this out.
Interviews: Justin Long (03:18) A decent, if a bit short, interview with the lead actor from BEST MAN DOWN.
Interviews: Ted Koland (05:15) The director offers a few interesting insights into the film but there isn’t much here either about BEST MAN DOWN.
AXS TV: A Look at BEST MAN DOWN (02:57) I’m not a fan of these AXS TV features, they generally don’t offer anything you didn’t see in the film or in the interviews included on the blu-ray disc. BEST MAN DOWN is slightly different with maybe one or two points that could not have been
The BEST MAN DOWN Blu-ray also features the Theatrical Trailer (02:20) and previews for additional releases from Magnolia entertainment.