The Best Man (1999 film)

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The Best Man
The Best Man (1999 film) poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Malcolm D. Lee
Produced by
Written by Malcolm D. Lee
Music by Stanley Clarke
Cinematography Frank Prinzi
Edited by Cara Silverman
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
October 22, 1999 (US)
Running time
120 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $9 million[1]
Box office $34,573,780

The Best Man is a 1999 American romantic comedy-drama film, written and directed by Malcolm D. Lee. It was produced by 40 Acres and a Mule Filmworks, with Lee's cousin, Spike Lee, serving as producer. The film stars Taye Diggs, Nia Long, Morris Chestnut and Sanaa Lathan. A Christmas-themed sequel, The Best Man Holiday, was released on November 15, 2013 with a reunited cast.


Harper Stewart (Diggs) is a young man living in Chicago with his beautiful and devoted girlfriend Robin (Lathan). However, Harper, whose professional life is on the verge of a major breakthrough is hesitant about committing to a woman. Harper's debut novel, Unfinished Business, has been selected by Oprah's Book Club, a seal of approval that pretty much guarantees him a best seller.

Harper then travels to New York City, where his best friend Lance (Chestnut), a running back for the New York Giants, is getting married to a young lady named Mia (Calhoun), who is also an old friend by Harper's. Harper is picked up at the airport by his friend Murch (Perrineau), and they catch up in the car. Eventually they meet up with Jordan (Long), Harper's old what-could-have-been female friend, and we learn that Jordan has obtained an advanced copy of his book and has been passing it around their inner circle of friends. Harper then learns that Murch was the reason that Jordan obtained the book, much to Harper's anguish. Due to its autobiographical nature, Harper never intended for any of them to read "Unfinished Business" prior to the wedding, with a lot of secrets from the past being revealed with Harper and friends. Here the guys meet up with Quentin (Howard), who congratulates Harper for the book. Harper chastises Quentin for not being able to settle down with work and with women.

A night of poker and drinking with the boys reveals a lot of intimate moments from the past. We learn that Quentin is the free spirit ladies man, that Lance was the church-going star athlete and player with the ladies, Harper had a way with women and was an editor for the school newspaper, and Murch was the one who could never keep a secret. It is here we find out that Harper is responsible for Lance and Mia getting together (with Mia and Harper being friends and working on the newspaper, and Mia being unimpressed with Lance's star-athlete draw), and that Harper had a chance with Jordan while they were in college. We also learn that Murch was stuck in a relationship with his longtime girlfriend Shelby (De Sousa), to which none of the guys approve of because of the way she controls his life and her disapproval of the fellas. Later on that night, Harper finds out that Lance has obtained a copy of his book and is eager to read. Harper goes to great lengths to prevent Lance from completing his read of "Unfinished Business", as Quentin sees that something is up with Harper and this book. During a tuxedo fitting, Quentin and Harper start to get into a heated discussion, with Quentin realizing that Harper is hiding something and afraid for his dirt to be aired out. When Lance comes to see what's going on, Quentin walks off, leaving an awkward moment between Lance and Harper. Harper plays it off like nothing is wrong, with Lance reminding Harper that Quentin, although emotional, is always honest.

Later that day, during a rehearsal at the church, Harper and Jordan have a moment. Jordan confesses to reading the book and still having sexual chemistry with Harper, to which she wants to explore that night. The two share a kiss in the church before leaving. The situation comes to a head later that night, when Quentin has a bachelor party planned for Lance. Jordan reminds Harper of their plans for later that night while Murch has a moment where he stands up to Shelby and her controlling ways, earning the praise of the fellas. During the bachelor party, Harper is able to obtain Lance's copy of "Unfinished Business", to the disgust of Quentin. Also, Murch ends up falling for a stripper by the name of Candy (Hall). Later, we find that Murch and Candy share similar tastes of things that they like, and that Candy only strips for the money and seems well educated. While Harper is distracted with one of the strippers, one of them take off Harper's coat and throws it towards Lance. Lance realizes that his copy of the book is in Harper's coat, and during the party, he excuses himself to the bathroom to read the book.

He gets to a part of the book where it explains a friend's betrayal and the best friend having to comfort his friend. A flashback shows that Lance cheated on Mia and Harper went to comfort Mia. While this is going, we see Harper getting ready to leave the bachelor party, and realizes his book his missing. As Lance continues to read, the screen turns to red as detail by detail ensues that Mia wanted payback for Lance's cheating and decided to sleep with Harper, exposing Harper's private romance with Mia. Lance furiously closes the book. As Harper is looking under the bed for his book, an enraged Lance appears from the bathroom and reveals Harper's betrayal of sleeping with Mia.

A fight ensues between Harper and Lance, where Lance begins to beat up Harper. Eventually Lance throws Harper through the balcony doors and holds him over a ledge. Downstairs, Murch sees that Harper is about to be thrown off the balcony and runs back into the hotel, while pleading with Candy to stay. Upstairs, Quentin is trying to talk Lance down from throwing Harper off the balcony. Harper pleads for his life to no avail as Lance is enraged. Quentin reminds Lance that God doesn't want this and to pull him up. Heeding Quentin's message, Lance pulls Harper up and leaves him on the balcony. He then proceeds to call off the wedding and throws everyone out of the hotel room. Lance then tells Harper to go to hell before locking himself in the bathroom. Quentin gives Harper a look of disapproval before leaving, as Harper has brought all of this on himself. A curious Murch comes upstairs to see Quentin leaving and a battered Harper pick up his book and leave the hotel.

A beat up and bruised Harper goes to meet up with Jordan. Harper expresses his anger for Jordan, going as far as to blame her for getting his ass whooped by Lance. Jordan, horny and frustrated with Harper, reminds him that it was he who decided to air out his dirty laundry in the book, and went as far as to lead Jordan on that they could've been something more. Frustrated, Jordan storms out of the room and Harper is left alone on her couch cuddled with his book. Robyn shows up at the airport and Harper is there to pick her up. She notices the cuts and bruises on Harper's face (from the fight with Lance the night before), and Harper breaks down and holds Robyn's legs in the middle of the airport. Harper comes clean about the book, Lance, Mia and Jordan to Robyn. She is taken back by all the reveals. As she begins to leave Harper, Harper begs her to stay and help him. Robyn stays and advises Harper she's only staying because of Mia, and this is Mia's wedding day.

They show up to the church on the wedding day. Quentin is waiting out front with Shelby, looking for Lance. Murch arrives with Candy, much to the chagrin of Shelby. When Shelby asks about Candy and Murch, Murch coldly breaks up with Shelby, realizing that he is not the one for her and she is bad for him. Shelby is left in shock and Quentin breaks out in laughter, amused that Murch is finally standing up for himself. Harper and Quentin ask the whereabouts of Lance, when Lance shows up to the church (still dressed from last night's bachelor party). He advises the guys that he's only here to tell his parents the wedding is off and he menacingly states to Harper "why are you here", before walking into the church. Harper, scared to confront his best friend, has second doubts about changing his mind. Robyn gives Harper a pep talk to boost his confidence and to comfort his best friend. Quentin and Murch go inside to stop Lance. Lance, now inside the church, is walking towards his parents to tell them the news, dragging Quentin and Murch with him. Harper runs inside and asks Lance to pray, which stops Lance momentarily. When Lance threatens him with another beatdown, Harper, (who earlier in the movie is revealed to not believe in religion or God), gets down on his knees and asks Lance to pray with him (going back to earlier when Lance was on his knees asking Harper to pray with him for forgiveness on Lance cheating on Mia).

In another room in the church, Lance threatens to fight Harper again and to not bring God into this. Harper asks for forgiveness and that Mia doesn't deserve this. Lance, realizing that Mia is the love of his life, begins to pray. He forces Harper to pray with him, and the two share a moment. As this is going on, Mia is freaking out about her wedding day. Jordan barges in and threatens to tell Mia everything that is going on with Lance (as this point, Mia doesn't have a clue what has happened). Robyn intervenes and changes the conversation reminding Mia that this is her day, saving Jordan from revealing the drama from the night before. Lance goes through with the wedding. As he is saying his vows, Lance begins to have flashes of Mia and Harper having sex, which sends his emotions over the edge. The two end up marrying, much to the delight of their friends and family.

During the reception, Harper is about to give his best man speech. He is about to pull out his notecards when Quentin stops him and tells him to talk from the heart, much to the delight of the family. Harper gives a heartfelt speech to Mia and Lance, to a warm reception. During the bouquet toss, Shelby pushes a bridesmaid out of the way and gets the bouquet. Quentin gets the leg garter. A sexual tension between Quentin and Shelby when he places the leg garter on her leads to a turned on Shelby storming out of the room, with Quentin reluctantly following. Later on, when everyone is dancing on the dance floor, Harper thanks Robyn for her help with Mia and Lance. Harper, going with the moment, gets down on one knee in front of everyone to a shocked and reluctant Robyn (with Jordan watching on). Harper pleads with her and ask Robyn to marry her, to which she says yes. Jordan starts to cry and claps in approval, as everyone claps to the news of Harper and Robyn getting engaged. The film ends with everyone doing the electric slide.

In a post-credit scene, we see a hungover and half-naked Shelby waking up. Then, a hungover and half-naked Quentin wakes up (implying that they had sex). They look at each other and scream in disgust as they fall out of bed.



The film received mostly positive reviews from critics. The film review website Allmovie gave the film 3/5 stars, with reviewer Jason Clark stating that while the film has "occasional moments of ripe humor, but it fails to say anything new about troubled weddings or the experience of being an upwardly mobile African-American looking for love."[2] At Metacritic, the film averaged a favorable 61% rating from critics.[3] Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a 72% positive rating based on reviews by 71 critics, with the site's consensus stating "With a strong cast and a host of well-defined characters, The Best Man is an intelligent, funny romantic comedy that marks an impressive debut for writer/director Malcolm D. Lee."[4] The film has earned a B+ average from users at the Yahoo! Movies site.[5]

Made on a relatively small budget of nine million dollars, the film went on to make over $34,000,000, nearly four times as much as it cost to produce the picture, by the end of its theatrical run.[1]

The film received numerous awards and accolades. Terrence Howard's performance in particular earned much praise from many film critics, and in hindsight The Best Man is considered to be his breakout film. Later, he made the jump to other films and to the TV series Law and Order: Los Angeles. Jason Clark in his Allmovie review even stated that although Taye Diggs does well in his first true starring role, Howard "commands the screen with such abandon that one secretly wishes the film could have been all about his oddly captivating character". All eight of the principal cast members received nominations for the film at the 2000 NAACP Image Awards, with Howard and Nia Long winning. The film itself also won Outstanding Motion Picture.[citation needed]


The Best Man (soundtrack)
Soundtrack album by Various artists
Released October 12, 1999
Recorded 1998-1999
Genre Hip hop, R&B
Length 62:45
Label Sony
Producer Bonnie Greenberg (exec.), Lisa Brown (exec.)
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 3/5 stars [6]

The film's soundtrack, released October 12, 1999, peaked at number 2 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts, and number 16 on The Billboard 200 in 1999.

# Title Performers Time
1 "What You Want"* The Roots, Jaguar 4:16
2 "Let's Not Play the Game"* Maxwell 4:32
3 "After All Is Said and Done" Beyoncé, Marc Nelson 4:15
4 "Poetry Girl" Eric Benét 5:29
5 "Liar, Liar" Latocha Scott 4:41
6 "Best Man" Faith Evans 3:26
7 "Beautiful Girl" Kenny Lattimore 4:04
8 "Hit It Up" Sporty Thievz 3:39
9 "Turn Your Lights Down Low"* Bob Marley, Lauryn Hill 4:02
10 "Untitled" Me'shell Ndegeocello 4:08
11 "As My Girl" Maxwell 3:11
12 "Wherever You Go" Sygnature 5:31
13 "When the Shades Go Down" Allure 4:56
14 "The Best Man I Can Be"* Case, Ginuwine, RL, and Tyrese 6:29

(*): Indicates songs were released as singles

  • The song playing during the scene where Harper and Jordan almost make love in college is "As" by Stevie Wonder, from his classic 1976 album Songs in the Key of Life. It does not appear on the soundtrack album, but appears on the soundtrack for the sequel The Best Man Holiday covered by Anthony Hamilton and Marsha Ambrosius.
  • Also important to the plot of the film is the 1986 song "Candy" by Cameo (from the group's Word Up! album). Likewise, "Candy" does not appear on the soundtrack album for the film.
  • Although The Roots' "What You Want" plays over the opening credits, the lyrics are edited slightly. This is necessary because the version which appears on the soundtrack album contains a major plot spoiler.

Awards and nominations[edit]

2000 Black Reel Awards

  • Best Actor (Theatrical)—Taye Diggs (nominated)
  • Best Actress (Theatrical)—Nia Long (winner)
  • Best Director (Theatrical)—Malcolm D. Lee (winner)
  • Best Screenplay, Original or Adapted (Theatrical)—Malcolm D. Lee (winner)
  • Best Supporting Actor (Theatrical)—Terrence Howard (nominated)

2000 Chicago Film Critics Association Awards

  • Most Promising Actor—Terrence Howard (nominated)

2000 Independent Spirit Awards

  • Best Supporting Male—Terrence Howard (nominated)

2000 NAACP Image Awards

  • Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture—Morris Chestnut (nominated)
  • Outstanding Actor in a Motion Picture—Taye Diggs (nominated)
  • Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture—Monica Calhoun (nominated)
  • Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture—Nia Long (winner)
  • Outstanding Motion Picture (winner)
  • Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture—Harold Perrineau (nominated)
  • Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Motion Picture—Terrence Howard (winner)
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture—Melissa De Sousa (nominated)
  • Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture—Sanaa Lathan (nominated)


  1. ^ a b "The Best Man (1999)". Box Office Mojo. IMDB. 2002-08-28. Retrieved 2012-06-13. 
  2. ^ Spike Lee (1999-10-22). "Allmovie Review". Retrieved 2012-06-13. 
  3. ^ "The Best Man". Metacritic. 1999-10-22. Retrieved 2012-06-13. 
  4. ^ "The Best Man". Flixster Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2012-06-13. 
  5. ^ "The Best Man | Trailer and Cast - Yahoo! Movies". Archived from the original on May 22, 2011. Retrieved 2012-06-13. 
  6. ^ Ruhlmann, William (1999-10-12). "The Best Man - Original Soundtrack : Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-06-13. 

External links[edit]