“We all have a friend like Lumpy. And if you don’t, you’ve certainly seen him at a party or a wedding,” says writer and director Ted Koland.” He is talking about the socially awkward friend who dies suddenly at a wedding in his new movie, Best Man Down

Koland wrote the script and is making his directorial debut with this bittersweet movie about Lumpy, who has had a “little too much to drink” at the gala in Phoenix, Arizona. When he is discovered dead, the bride and groom are forced to forgo their honeymoon and plan a funeral instead. Talk about a wedding that you’ll always remember!

Where does a guy get the inspiration to write such a story? 

“A few years back, my brother told me a tragic, yet darkly comic story about a friend of a friend of a friend,” explains Koland in a recent press statement about the film. “It seemed that this distant acquaintance had gotten blotto drunk at a ‘destination’ wedding and was found the next afternoon slumped over a Pachycereus pringlei. Dead. Without knowing anything else about the deceased or what his life had included, I was fairly confident this man would live in infamy as ‘the guy who died on a cactus.’”

Koland was fascinated with this story and wanted to explore what a bride and groom would do in this situation. In this movie, Scott the groom tells Kristin the bride that Lumpy was his best friend, to which she corrects him by saying “He was your oldest friend. There’s a difference.” The difference is that Scott really didn’t know much about his best man.

The rest of the film follows the couple as they travel across the country to find out more about this mystery man who they thought they knew.

“People are so easily categorized as ‘the girl who ______’ or ‘that guy who got caught ______.’ We get one piece of information and we think we know the whole story. But life is never that simple. Public labeling used to be limited to politicians and celebrities. But in a modern world of texting, Facebook and Twitter, we’re all subject to instant and permanent branding,” says Koland.

Best Man Down stars Justin Long (He’s Just Not that into You and the “I’m a Mac” guy for the Apple computer commercials), Tyler Labine (Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Tucker and Dale vs. Evil) who is shown mostly in flashbacks, Jess Weixler (TV’s The Good Wife), Addison Timlin (TV’s Californification), and Shelley Long (TV’s Cheers), who is not related to Justin Long. Koland himself served as a staff writer for the syndicated TV series Fashion House and later as head writer for Saints & Sinners, has been working on the project since 2008.

Unfortunately, Best Man Down has not received many favorable reviews, but the intriguing storyline may be a good reason to catch it. Most reviewers agree that the film has heart, but fails to keep the audience engaged and some have described the movie as “sloppy.” Though promoted as a comedy, many feel that it is more of a drama, and not a very good one at that. Rotten Tomatoes gave it a low score of 40 percent (not fresh). Still, the film does raise one’s curiosity.

This film is rated PG-13 for thematic material, drug content, some sexuality and brief language.

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