A Few Best Men (review)

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A Few Best Men red light Kris Marshall Kevin Bishop

I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): the trailer was idiotic

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

A Few Best Men opens with an instance of banana-peel slapstick, lest you be in the least bit of doubt that this was going to rise to the level of the standard comedy of embarrassment and humiliation quickly followed on by schmaltz and sentiment. Nope, it never reaches even that low bar. The banana peel comes in the wake of the joke — oh, if only it were! — about sweet dumb David (Xavier Samuel: Anonymous, The Twilight Saga: Eclipse) proposing to Mia (Laura Brent: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader) 10 days after meeting her while on holiday in Australia. He doesn’t know her, but shockingly, he is madly in love with this pretty slender blonde, and must marry her instantly. (It will be even more “hilarious” when later, at their actual wedding, he learns stuff about her that comes as a surprise to him; actually, the film sympathizes, preposterously, with David’s astonishment, as if a woman might be so transparent as to have no aspects to her life or personality that someone who’s spent only a week and a half with her wouldn’t have discovered.) And people say romance is dead.

If they didn’t already, they will after this crude, obvious, juvenile, and desperately unfunny excuse for a wedding farce.

David returns to London to gather his “friends” — I use the word advisedly, since these guys don’t really seem to like or respect one another — for the return trip Down Under for the wedding. Which becomes cause for general despair among the friends — Tom (Kris Marshall: Easy Virtue, Death at a Funeral), Luke (Tim Draxl), and Graham (Kevin Bishop), the latter of whom the others seem to especially hate — because they are about to lose one of their buddies in drinking, drugging, and generally acting like teenagers into their 30s (and, in Tom’s case, nearing 40). There isn’t one single laugh here for anyone who doesn’t think that women are disgusting, men are morons, homosexuality is terrifying, and friendship is about cruelty and envy. Why, it’s practically a Hollywood film!

Except it isn’t a Hollywood film. It’s a joint Australian/U.K. production, but clearly inspired by what passes for comedy from the studios these days. It’s written by British screenwriter Dean Craig, apparently trying to replicate the genius of his Death at a Funeral but further apparently missing what made that brilliant and truly funny film work (hint: it was genuine emotion, not grossout humor). Rather mysteriously, it’s directed by Stephan Elliott, who made the sly and sophisticated Easy Virtue and way back, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, generally considered to be a modern classic. So what the hell happened? How did these men end of crafting — another word I use extremely loosely — a movie that involves anally violating a sheep? Or Olivia Newton-John (Grease) embarrassing herself as David’s new mother-in-law-to-be, an ostensibly demure lady who’s actually something of a party girl?

This is such an appalling movie that it’s barely worth complaining about, say, how weirdly edited it is, with scenes cut off mid moment. Because so many of those scenes end up having no point at all, or only a stupid and offensive point, so its technical faults feel like a blessing. It saves us from having to endure yet more of its idiocy.

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