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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Well, i thought this film was going to be an uncomfortable and depressing experience, dealing as it does with personal failure and the jealousy, despondency and self-loathing it can create. But as it turns out, this film is a gem - real, uplifting, moving but unsentimental. It illustrates perfectly how people's unfulfilled aspirations and desires and their search for "success" can blind them to the true worthwhile and positive aspects of themselves and their lives.
I'm currently reading a book about status anxiety. This is a human condition that is rampant in modern society and it effects all of us to some extent - the need to keep up appearances with our peers (in a material sense) or else believe ourselves to be unloved, useless failures. money = success. This film illustrates this condition perfectly. It also shows us that no one can be a "loser" when they have good friends, people they love and care about and can have fun with. At the end of the day who is the real loser? The millionaire with no friends (real that is) or the toilet attendant with many?
Very few films like this are made any more - intelligent, though-provoking, profound and uncompromising. No car chases, no unnecessary violence, no product placement, just a very good film.
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