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Second Best is the story of five male baby boomers all nearing 50. They graduated from college together, ready to take on the world, but only one of the group has done exceptionally well. His visit back East to hang out with the old gang triggers the most intense feelings of inadequacy and "second bestness," particularly in his oldest and closest friend. Written by
[reading from his printed leaflet]
So here I am, gang - kicked out of a job and a house, scrounging from my mom, my ex-wife, my son, and guess what: my oldest friend Richard is coming to town, and I beg him to stay with me. Richard has kept his hair, his looks, his money; and pretty much runs Hollywood. You'd think he wouldn't have the time of day for his old buddies back East. You know, he's never once turned his back on me. Not once. Always kind, totally open, lends me money, and never asks ...
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A sensitive, funny, and affectionate study of a mensch
I enjoyed "Second Best" greatly. It is a deftly-constructed study of a group of old friends, with the emphasis on the character Elliot (Joe Pantoliano). Elliot thinks of himself as a loser, especially by contrast with his old friend Richard, who's got it all--the beautiful wife, tons of money, memberships in the best country clubs, great looks. He can't help but confront his friends with their own failings, as well as his own. But when the chips are down, it's Elliot who comes through as a real mensch, a good guy in the most important ways, and the film leaves you with the sense that in every important respect Elliot is not "second best" at all. He is the true hero of the movie, as improbable as that may seem at first. Eric Weber clearly has a great affection for his characters, and he represents them with great humor as well as a deep understanding. This is an American-made film that reminds you of the foreign movies you love so much (especially if you're sick as I am of car chases, explosions, and special effects). Highly recommended.
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