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 date
  • October 22, 1999 (1999-10-22)
Running time
120 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $9 million[1]
Box office $34,573,780

The Best Man is a 1999 African 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 and Nia Long. 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, Robyn (Lathan). However, Harper has a professional life as an author and is on the verge of a major breakthrough. He is hesitant about committing to a woman. Harper's debut novel, Unfinished Business, has been selected by Oprah's Book Club, pretty much guaranteeing him a bestseller.

Harper travels to New York City, where his best friend, Lance (Chestnut), who is a running back for the New York Giants, is getting married to a young lady named Mia (Calhoun), who is also an old friend of 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 who has obtained an advanced copy of his book and has been passing it around their inner circle of friends. Due to its autobiographical nature, Harper never intended for any of them to read "Unfinished Business" prior to the wedding. The guys meet up with Quentin (Howard), who congratulates Harper for the book. Harper chastises Quentin for not being able to settle down both with work and with women.

Over the course of the weekend, it is revealed that Quentin is the free spirited 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. Through a series of flashbacks, it is shown that Lance and Mia met through Harper and that Harper had a chance with Jordan, while they were in college. Meanwhile, Murch has been stuck in a relationship with his longtime girlfriend and Mia's sorority sister Shelby (De Sousa), which none of the guys approve. Later on that night, Harper finds out that Lance has obtained a copy of his book and is eager to read it. This unsettles Harper, who is now worried that Lance may discover that both his soon-to-be wife, Mia and Harper had a one-night stand several years ago.

Jordan confesses to reading the book and still having sexual chemistry with Harper, 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. 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, who has already figured out Harper's secret. Also, Murch ends up falling for a stripper by the name of Candy (Hall). Lance realizes that his copy of the book is in Harper's coat, and suspicious, he quietly excuses himself to read the book.

While Lance reads the book, a flashback shows that Lance cheated on Mia and when Harper went to comfort her, she decided to sleep with Harper in order to get back at Lance. Enraged, Lance snaps and nearly beats Harper to death (despite Harper's attempts to explain), culminating in Lance preparing to throw Harper over the balcony ledge. Although Quentin calmly manages to talk Lance out of it, Lance calls off the wedding instead. Quentin gives Harper a look of disapproval before leaving, as Harper has brought all of this on himself.

A beat-up and bruised Harper goes to meet up with Jordan. Harper expresses his anger for Jordan, blaming her for all the mess by circulating the book. Jordan, frustrated with Harper, reminds him that it was he who decided to air out his dirty laundry, 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 and Harper breaks down. He comes clean about the book, Lance, Mia, and Jordan to Robyn. Taken aback, she begins to leave Harper. Harper begs her to stay and help him. Robyn stays and advises Harper she is only staying because of Mia, and this is Mia's wedding day.

They show up at the church for the wedding. 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. Lance finally shows up, but tells the guys that he's only there to tell his parents the wedding is off. Everyone tries to stop Lance and Harper, encouraged by Robyn, runs inside the church and asks Lance to pray, which stops Lance momentarily.

Harper asks for forgiveness and tries telling Lance 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. Originally, Jordan is about to tell Mia everything, but Robyn intervenes and changes the conversation. An emotional Lance goes through with the wedding much to the delight of their friends.

Harper gives a heartfelt speech for Mia and Lance praising the special love that they have for one another. During the bouquet toss, Shelby pushes a bridesmaid out of the way and gets the bouquet. Quentin gets the leg garter. Later on, when everyone is dancing, Harper thanks Robyn for her help and asks her to marry him, to which she says yes. Jordan starts to cry and claps in approval. 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, Simbi Khali 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]