The Best Man | EW.com

Movies

Nia Long, Taye Diggs, ...

A ''MAN'' AND A WOMAN ''Best'' friends Diggs and Long (Michael Ginsburg)

A group of seven college friends come together for a big life event. Flirting, fighting, and alcohol-induced stupors ensue. Sound familiar? ”I was definitely influenced by movies like ‘The Big Chill,”’ says Lee, who also wrote this reunion flick revolving around a wedding. ”I wanted to do a movie about a group of friends who are intelligent, have got hang-ups, emotions, and they’re American. They just happen to be black.”

And good lower-budget scripts with African-American appeal happen to be good business. Given Twentieth Century Fox’s success with films like ”Waiting to Exhale” and ”Soul Food,” Universal gave Lee’s $9 million film a near-instant green light. ”It’s not like Hollywood was trying to make a statement,” insists Lee. ”For some reason, wedding pictures do well at the box office.”

But Diggs (”How Stella Got Her Groove Back”) sees other reasons for the film’s appeal: ”Every black actor out there wanted this. It’s about young, educated, articulate black men and women. I don’t see many scripts like that.”

It didn’t hurt that Lee’s cousin – maybe you’ve heard of him? – was on board as a producer. ”Spike only visited the first day,” says Lee. ”He knows a director needs control of his set. If he’d been there it would have been all ‘Oh! Spike Lee!’ No one needed that.” BUZZ FACTOR: 3

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