I don't normally go to independent movies, but I thought to myself that this is a movie that I would like to see if it were a major studio release. I felt that the premise had potential.
Then I found out that Neil Patrick Harris was one of the leads in this movie. NPH is arguably the most talented actor in my age bracket. I guess I don't really need to toot his horn. If you're reading this, you're likely a fan.
For an independent film, there sure were a lot of actors I knew. The main lead in this movie was Bonnie Somerville, who I remember from an arc in The OC. There was Kelly Coffield Park, who I used to watch on In Living Color. Another In Living Color vet, Steve Park (Kelly's husband), had a big role. Kate Mulgrew, of Star Trek Voyager fame, was also in there. The movie also had two very talented supporting actors in Amy Sedaris and Christopher McDonald. I've seen both their work in the past, but for me, McDonald's resume looks like a list of movies I've seen. He was in Grease 2, Breakin', and I'm probably the only person on the planet that would complement his work in Chattanooga Choo Choo. And finally, I'll mention Jenna Stern, who I haven't seen much of, but was very good in this movie as the comedic foil.
The movie itself was very good.
From the opening shot I knew this wasn't some amateur production. It had good cutaways, real music, and of course, a great cast. But most important, the audience I was with laughed.
That's the key. People laughed. I've seen so many movies where the jokes bomb. Comedians bomb more often than they are funny. But here, people laughed.
This was not some sort of family comedy. It was rated R. No question. F bombs were flying like Libya was the target. We had boobs. Two of them! And they were good!
I expected the movie to center around Neil Patrick Harris, though I would say that Somerville, who played NPH's wife Samantha, was the true star of the film. Best and the Brightest was not exactly what I expected. I went into the movie expecting PG-13 humor, with some sort of funny competition between families involving getting into preschool. The movie was really nothing like that. It was an R rated comedy with the kindergarten theme, with some dirty humor that just worked.
This is my first review on the IMDb, and I see the ban on spoilers. I don't THINK I'm revealing a spoiler here, but just to be safe, here's your SPOILER warning:
The movie shows the difficulty one has to get their kid educated in a private school. While the movie was an exaggeration, apparently, it isn't THAT much of an exaggeration. These people hit a brick wall, and even hired a coach named Sue (Sedaris) to get this kid into school. Sedaris basically decided that these people were too hum drum to stand out, and looked for a hook, and wasn't above stretching the truth.
Upon hearing that NPH's character Jeff wrote a single poem in high school, Sue decided that Jeff would market himself as a soon to be published poet. The idea was they could fake it through the interview with the headmistress(Stern), and all would be OK. I don't want to spoil this movie too much, but let's just say something made its way into the application by mistake, and the humor that came as a result made this movie.
One theme of this movie is what happens when a good intended lie spirals out of control. Well, in this movie, funny things happen.
This movie is better than a lot of things you see from the big studios today. The acting was top notch. Christopher McDonald has to be considered one of the more underrated actors out there. Everything he does, he does well. I don't need to compliment NPH. We all know he's the man. Sedaris was energetic and funny. Somerville of course was the star. The Parks' roles were written especially FOR them, and they were funny as well.
The movie's biggest issues will be marketing. Yes, it's a funny movie. Yes, it's a good movie. But how do you market an R rated comedy with a PG 13 topic? The people that would laugh at this movie, and the people that would likely go out and see it, may not be the same people. At the post-movie Q&A, Director/co-writer Josh Shelov even said studios weren't sure how to market it. That said, I hope this movie showcases Josh well enough to get him to the next level.
If Michael Bay can make movies, if Brannon Braga can still get work writing and producing, if Will Ferrell is still allowed to act, then maybe it's time Hollywood raises its standards and lets some more talented people like the crew behind Best and the Brightest at it.
The bottom line is this--this movie has the most important element of a comedy. It's funny.