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USA 2013
Directed by
Ted Koland
86 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Best Man Down

Although wrapping up far too neatly for its own good, for the most part Best Man Down is a winning hand in the indie comedy stakes.

Lumpy (Tyler Labine) is an overweight, good-natured but frustratingly gauche guy who is the best man at the wedding of Scott (Justin Long) and Kristin (Jess Weixler) in Arizona. After getting completely maggoted and causing embarrassment all round at the reception he staggers into the desert where he collapses and dies. His best friend, Scott, is left with the job of arranging Lumpy’s funeral and in the process learns a few things about his friend.

Debut feature writer-director Ted Koland has a background in television, something which no doubt explains the tendency to over-neatness, but which also has given him a flair for well-crafted light entertainment. Hence Best Man Down is made-to-order comedy but the best comedy always has a touch of tragedy and Koland gets the proportions just right. The film is funny and moving at the same time

Whilst the script nicely weaves together the various strand of the story which jumps back and forward in time to reveal the truth about Lumpy what really makes the film click is the fine cast. From Labine as the loveable loser to Long and Weixler as the newly-weds to Addison Timlin as Lumpy’s 15-year-old friend the performances bring the script to life convincingly.  Although too old for play a 15 year-old, Timlin, who was 21 at the time, is touching as the self-protectively feisty Ramsey and Labine, who belongs to the John Candy/Jack Black school of comedy fat men is winning in every one of his relatively few scenes.  The support cast, including Frances O’Connor, are all of a consistent calibre whilst directorially Koland brings it all together with great economy making good use of the Minnesota setting to add to the story's emotional resonance.

As far as I know Best Man Down did not get a theatrical release in Australia no doubt because it has no big name actors but if you like comedies in the Juno style of thing it's well worth looking out for.

Available from: Madman




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