The Best Man HolidayBy Wilson Morales
It’s not that often studios are able to greenlit a sequel to a film that was never seen as a franchise. In 1999, Malcolm D. Lee scored a hit with his written, directed film, The Best Man. With a cast that included Morris Chestnut, Taye Diggs, Regina Hall, Terrence Howard, Sanaa Lathan, Nia Long, Harold Perrineau, Monica Calhoun, and Melissa De Sousa, Lee introduced a crop of newcomers to the scene while also reigniting the careers of others. The film opened number one at the box office and would later become an urban classic.
Nearly 15 years later, the cast is back for a reunion in The Best Man Holiday, a predictable, but gut-wrenching and highly entertaining dramedy.
Years have passed since football player Lance Sullivan (Chestnut) married Mia (Calhoun) after discovering the fact that she had an affair with his best friend, Harper Stewart (Diggs), back when they were in college. Stewart has disclosed this indiscretion in his first book.
At present time, Mia has gathered the crew back together to celebrate the holidays over at her house with Lance and their four kids. Lance, playing for the New York Giants, is set to break the rushing record, while Harper is having writer’s block, having failed at his second book and dealing with pregnant wife Robyn (Lathan), a rising chef who’s had some miscarriages. Adding to their stressful lives is the fact that money is drying up since he hasn’t told Robyn he lost his teaching gig at NYU. While tension still exists between the former roommates, Harper is looking to have Lance’s story be the center for his next book and looking for help from Jordan (Long), an MSNBC exec who has come up with her latest boyfriend Brian (Eddie Cibrian).
Also joining the celebration are Julian (Perrineau) and his former stripper-now social activist wife Candace (Hall); along with their two daughters. Julian is a private school administrator looking for new funding once a huge contributor declines donating more money after seeing Candace, during her stripper days, in a YouTube video. Quentin (Howard) is still a bachelor but successful businessman. Emotions run high once reality-TV star Shelby (De Sousa), Julian’s former girlfriend and Quentin’s one-time hookup, shows up with her daughter. With friction still boiling between Lance and Harper, Jordan and Robyn, Shelby and Julian, Shelby and Candace, things are bound to chaotic when everyone is under the same roof.
Lee, who also directed ‘Undercover Cover’ and ‘Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins,’ had years to craft this emotional and laugh-out-loud comedic film, and while it becomes a bit predictable at times, there are plenty of moments that will please anyone who’s looking for an evening’s entertainment. One needs to see ‘The Best Man’ to see how well developed these characters were set up.
Using the holiday season as a camouflage to bring everyone was a great idea. The first film was a coming of age dealing with the guys and their peaks and valleys. With this film, it’s about everyone and their stories and how each needs to face emotions when dealing with a crisis. Each one of these character are bright and successful, but trust is a trait that is seldom used. There’s need to single out who gives the best performance or who was wasted because everyone shines. If there’s one person who Malcolm may have let loose, it’s Howard. Never seen as a comedian, he elevates every scene he’s in with his lines or looks. Also with gorgeous set design and Christmas music coming from the likes of Nat King Cole, Mary J. Blige, and R.Kelly, here’s a film that delivers what the fans have been waiting for. You will laugh, you will cry, but you will be totally pleased by the end result.