Featured Blu-ray / DVD Review: Best Man Down
Best Man Down opened in the heart of Awards Season, but it wasn't aiming for Oscars. It's simply an Indie Dramedy that got lost in the crowd, in part due to its release date, but also in part due to its reviews. Does it deserve to find an audience in limited release? Or would this film have faded away no matter when it debuted?
This film begins with a quick scene in Minnesota with a girl calling someone and leaving a message. The film then jumps to Arizona where Scott and Kristin are getting married. (The film jumps back and forth a lot, so I think I will just tell one side of the story and then the other.) The pair are thinking of sneaking off to start their honeymoon sooner rather than later, but they are interrupted by Lumpy, Scott's best friend / best man, who offers them shots. Lumpy has gotten really drunk and has been acting a little obnoxious and it is starting to get on the bride's nerves. Scott's a lot more forgiving, for a number of reasons, especially since Lumpy loaned him the money to help pay for their honeymoon. As the night continues Lumpy gets drunker, and drunker, and eventually Scott has to escort him from the wedding.
Back in his hotel room, Lumpy rocks out to music videos on the TV, but slips off the bed and smacks his head. What follows is a scene that's a little too bloody and drawn out, Lumpy struggles to his feet and tries to get help. He eventually stumbles out of the hotel, into a nearby field, and falls onto a cactus where he dies. This protracted death scene is not a good way to start the movie. It really hurts the tone early on. After Lumpy's death, Scott and Kristin talk to Kristin's mother, Gail, who attempts to console them, and fails when she brings up liability and possibly suing the hotel. After that, the newlyweds realize it is going to be quite difficult, and quite expensive, to get the body back to Minnesota. And of course they are going to have to cancel the honeymoon to plan the funeral, which is not something that sits well with Kristin. She relying on Ambien and Xanax to get through, which is a source of arguments between the couple.
When they get back to Minnesota, they have real difficulty planning the funeral, because despite Lumpy being Scott's best friend, it turns out Scott doesn't know a lot about him. For instance, he didn't know Lumpy dropped out of law school more than a year ago. All they have to go on is one phone number on his cell phone: Ramsey Anderson. (Later they get the name of the town where she lives: Lutsen.) What they don't know is...
Ramsey Anderson is the girl in the opening scene. Ramsey's homelife is a mess. Her mother, Jamie, is spaced out on something and her mother's boyfriend, Winston, is probably the one supplying her. In fact, he forces her to steal cold medicine for him to make Meth with. Her only real friend is a priest, whom we meet in bed with his boyfriend. Or soon-to-be ex-boyfriend, as the pair breakup. (The boyfriend drove a long time to be with the priest, but it's a small town and the priest is in the closet, so they can't be seen together.) Unfortunately, Ramsey knows. She's cool with it, but does use her knowledge as leverage to borrow some money from the priest. (She needs it to buy groceries, since her mother wastes all of her money on a phoney psychic.)
Later on, Winston makes Ramsey steal cold medicine from the pharmacy, but this time she intentionally gets caught. The priest talks to the sheriff to make sure she doesn't get arrested, but Winston isn't happy, and it looks like he's going to snap.
After the movie switches between these two threads a bunch of times, we witness a really awkward family dinner with the newlyweds and her family. It is at this point that Kristin decides she and Scott have to go to Lutsen, they have to find Ramsey, and they have to tell her what happened. It is at this point the movie flashes back to the day Lumpy and Ramsey met. This is also where the movie is at its best, but it is also too far into spoiler territory to continue.
Best Man Down only earned 33% positive reviews, but I think that's a bit harsh. Granted, there are some serious issues here, including the death scene dragging on too long. There were also too many subplots thrown in that didn't have as strong of a payoff as they should have. This issue is made worse, because the movie bounced back and forth so much and the film is really disjointed as a result. It's called a dramedy, but there are only a few scenes that are truly funny, while many attempts at humor fall flat. On the other hand, there are some strong moments in the movie. The basic premise, what happens if you find out you hardly know your best friend, is a solid one and I did enjoy how that played out. The best scenes in the movie are between Lumpy and Ramsey, but there are not nearly enough of them. We hit the 40-minute mark before we see how they met. Addison Timlin is very good in this film and I'm looking forward to seeing her in other movies.
Overall, I'm glad I got a chance to see the movie, but I don't think I'll watch it again.
There are not a lot of extras on the DVD or the Blu-ray. Things start with six minutes of outtakes. Up next are a couple of short interviews, the first with Justin Long and the second is with the writer / director Ted Koland. Finally, there is a three-minute EPK "look at" the film.
There's not much to say about the film's technical presentation, as it is exactly what you would expect for a film like this. The video is solid, but not flashy. The level of details is high enough, while the colors are strong. There are no compression issues to deal with. The audio is likewise solid, but not spectacular. It's a dialogue driven film, so having clear dialogue is the most important part of the audio and it's good in that department.
The Blu-ray costs $5 or 22% more than the DVD, which is a fine price for this type of film.
Best Man Down is not an entirely successful film and quite frankly, for every part that works, there's a part that doesn't. Add in weak extras on the DVD and the Blu-ray and the overall value is no more than a rental.
- Submitted by: C.S.Strowbridge
Date posted: 2014-01-19