The Best Man Holiday – Review
November 15, 2013 \ Movies \ 1 Comment
The original BEST MAN was a surprise hit when it was released in 1999. The film featured an all-black cast with the fresh faces (at the time) of Taye Diggs, Monica Calhoun, and, most notably, Terrance Howard. Rounding out the cast are Morris Chestnut, Nia Long, Harold Perrineau and Sanaa Lathan. The film was fresh; unlike most “black films” that preceded BEST MAN, the characters were all college educated and did not live in the hood. For those who missed the original, the story involves Harper (Diggs) who has just written a book to be featured on Oprah's Book Club. Harper is also going to be the best man at his best friend Lance’s (Chestnut) wedding. Simple enough. However, it seems that the book is based on Harper and his friends and may or may not reveal that Harper slept with Lance’s bride-to-be Mia. One of the groomsman Quentin (Howard) is not happy with his portrayal in the book and further complicates Harper’s attempt to keep Lance from reading or finding out about the affair. Although the filmmakers offer a “Cliff Notes” version of the major events in the first film, I still recommend seeing the original before seeing the sequel.
Fourteen years later, the entire group has reunited to celebrate Christmas at Lance and Mia’s home. Although the first film ends with an apparent resolution between Harper and Lance, it seems that there is still tension even after all the intervening years. This film is one of the rare instances wherein all of the original cast members returned after such a long layoff. There is Harper and his very pregnant wife Robin (Lathan), Murch and his former stripper girlfriend Candace, Quentin and his ever-present mouth, Jordan and her boyfriend Brian (Eddie Cibrian who is noticeably absent from the movie poster), and Murch’s ex-girlfriend Shelby. Shelby’s presence in this film is suspect, but the film attempts to cover it by suggesting that Shelby and Mia are sorority sisters; I do not remember that aspect from the first film. There is still very good interplay and chemistry between the four guys but make no mistake this is Howard’s film. He provides the film’s humor and serves as a reminder at just how talented he is.
There is a great deal going on in the film but it is successful in juggling the different story lines until the Shelby plot becomes prominent. Shelby did not play a very big role in the first film and her presence here serves as a distraction. Otherwise, the leads are engaging and help carry the story along until the film takes a surprising shift in tone for this type of film. I will not reveal the details but I must admit that I was surprised that it went in this direction given that it is being billed as “holiday” entertainment. The last 45 minutes is heartbreaking but director Malcolm Lee does a good job at shifting between humor and tragedy.
The film runs about 15-20 minutes too long—similar to the first film—and could have used some tighter editing. There is an entire sequence towards the end of the film that it is not only unnecessary but out of place in this film. There are a few other minor qualms I have with the film as well. For instance, Lance has been playing football as a running back since the conclusion of the first film but seems to have no ill-effects from playing for all that time. Robin is having a high-risk pregnancy, I am skeptical that she could travel so close to her due date. Eddie Cibrian’s absence from the film’s poster is also troubling. The same thing happened earlier this year when another major characters from BAGGAGE CLAIM—a white character—was mysteriously absent from the film’s poster. I will save that discussion for another time.
This sequel is not necessary. In my opinion the first film was very good and left no room for a sequel. The story for the original is far more compelling that the story of its sequel. Although I do believe this film is worth seeing, do not be fooled by the film’s advertising. The film is somewhat manipulative in drawing an emotional reaction from the audience. There was audible crying at the screening I attended. My advice: take tissue. So much for feel-good holiday entertainment. The filmmakers covered themselves this time and left themselves some wiggle room to make another film if they desire. Hopefully, it won’t take another 14 years for them to do so.