Dramedies are pretty commonplace this day and age. They are perhaps, the best genre to imitate real life since life is usually a crazy blend of drama and comedy. The two genres can mesh either beautifully or tragically. Best Man Down is a perfect example of this phenomenon and while it doesn’t really know whether it’s comedy or drama, that is just the point and the results are actually pretty solid.
Scott (Justin Long) and Kristin (Jess Weixler) are getting married. They are a very cute couple about to tie the knot and things just couldn’t be better. That is until Scott’s obnoxious yet lovable best man Lumpy (Tyler Labine) dies in a freak accident. Lumpy’s death causes the happy couple to cancel their honeymoon so that they can attend his funeral. Along the way, they encounter a teenage girl who was romantic with the deceased and this turn of events only serves to complicate matters.
Best Man Down is a curious film. It’s subject matter is dark and at times, macabre. There is offbeat humor sprinkled throughout and the performances from the actors are strong and sincere. Addison Timlin (Standup Guys, Derailed) steals the show as 15 year-old Ramsay, the girl who stole Lumpy’s heart. She shows the emotion and intelligence of someone twice her age and this is part of the reason Lumpy fell in love with her in the first place.
The film drifts along in snowy Minneapolis where Lumpy’s past is explored and dissected. Young Ramsay is at the center of the story and Scott and Kristin are just there along for the ride. Justin Long plays his usual hip, young self and Jess Weixler (Teeth, The Big Bad Swim) could have been easily replaced by any number of attractive, young actresses.
The humorous yet doomed Lumpy is played with color and vibrancy by the likable teddy bear of an actor Tyler Labine (Tucker and Dale vs Evil, Rise of the Planet of the Apes). His scenes are in the beginning up until his character’s death, he then appears in flashback. It is a truly dark in every sense of the word but that’s okay because this film is a dramedy.
The setting of the film feels like a more light-hearted version of Fargo. Minneapolis doesn’t seem like a very favorable spot to go vacationing. Scott and Kristin didn’t think they’d be spending their honeymoon in this boring and frigid locale and that fact is actually pretty funny and thoroughly reinforced all throughout the film.
Death is one of the main topics explored in Best Man Down and it can be viewed in many ways. The basic instinctual emotions that accompany death are sadness, anger and confusion. The main characters of this film trek through Minneapolis searching for answers and try to cope with the loss of a good friend. The presence of Ramsay just adds to the confusion but this serves to elevate the film in true dramedic fashion.
There are pros and cons when analyzing Best Man Down. The pros come in the form of delightful performances provided by the four main actors. The script is a bit on the weak side, so it is up to the actors to bring the film to life. Long is adequate as his usual everyman self. Weixler is the weak link but hey, she’s cute, so her presence here isn’t a total waste. The strongest players here are Labine and Timlin who ignite screen whenever they are on it and since they have a quirky romance in the film, the scenes that they share together are pure gold.
Few films these days are brave enough to tackle tough issues like death and manage to put a smile on it. Putting on a smile in the face of death is not exactly politically correct but it certainly eases the pain of a time of extreme hurt. Best Man Down does this with class and charm and it is a film that won’t leave you feeling disappointed.