We’ve all seen the stereotypical life-of-the-party best friend at a wedding (or in a wedding movie) who drinks too much, unleashes his awkward dance moves, unbuttons a few too many buttons, and makes moves on all the ladies. Best Man Down is about that guy — until it isn’t.
As the title implies, things eventually head south for that boisterous best man, Lumpy (Tyler Labine), when he’s found dead following the wedding of his best friend Scott (Justin Long). EW.com is exclusively premiering the poster for the fall film, and director Ted Koland got on the phone to talk us through the visual, which plants the movie firmly in dramedy territory.
“The movie is relatable because everyone has a friend like Lumpy, or at least you know a guy like Lumpy, or you’ve seen him at a wedding. So what I loved about that particular image was just, instantly, you look at the little cake decorations, and you’re like, ‘Oh,’” Koland told us of the face-planted, plastic best man. “But the photos are nice, because it’s not that broad comedy about the best man that runs around and is a big clown and makes everyone’s life miserable. It’s really a mystery, and the whole movie is activated by Lumpy’s death, so the movie really functions more as an unexpected mystery than anything else.”
It was a delicate balance for the movie, which also features Jess Weixler (Teeth, The Good Wife) as Long’s bride. “If your best man dies and your wedding is ruined, of course you want to honor the death of this person. But at the same time, any human being couldn’t help but feel … sorry for themselves on some level,” Koland admitted. “Some small corner of your mind is like, ‘Ugh, why did it have to happen on my honeymoon?’ So you see a little bit of that. And you see Justin feeling bad, and I just think people who handle comedy a little bit better would show both sides of that process. We saw a lot of actors that just went straight drama. But, you know, I wanted the audience to enjoy the ride and not just see the sad and awful part of it. And there’s a lot of comedy in death.”
Long is best known for his comedic work in Dodgeball, Going the Distance, New Girl, and this fall in the Anna Faris sitcom Mom, but Koland said the actor has the chops to get serious. “I think Justin’s performance is going to surprise a lot of people,” Koland said. “He’s so well-known for his broad comedy, but the Justin you see here in the film — he certainly has his funny moments, but it’s a really dramatic turn for him. He does an amazing job.”
Before Best Man Down hit the festival circuit last year, it had the working title of Lumpy, as evidenced by the title card of the trailer below. “We certainly didn’t want people thinking it was ‘the oatmeal movie,’ or ‘the Little Rascals movie’ or something,” Koland laughed. But you can get a feel for the film — which makes its Video On Demand debut in October and then hits theaters in November — by checking out this sneak peek: