In this sequel to The Best Man, friends are reunited after 15 years, just in time for Christmas. However, they soon discover that all that is in the past has not stayed in the past, and it is not long before old rivalries and romances are re-ignited.
The Best Man was released in 1999, to generally favourable reviews in the US. Directed by Spike Lee’s cousin Malcolm D. Lee, the film focused on a group of friends who lie to and cheat on one another, on the eve of Lance (Morris Chestnut) and Mia’s (Monica Calhoun) wedding, and the release of Harper’s (Taye Diggs) new book. 15 years later, Mia brings the gang back together, just in time for Christmas. If you have not seen the first film, do not fear, we are reminded of just what went on during the opening credits of The Best Man Holiday, although some of the actual detail is still a little sketchy. Suffice it to say that almost everyone are still friends, but Lance and Harper are still on the outs.
The entire cast has returned for The Best Man Holiday and resumed their roles from the first film; Taye Diggs as the overwhelmed Harper, a man facing a crisis in his life. Terrence Howard as the stoner oddball Quentin, Morris Chestnut as god fearing, family man/football player Lance, Regina Hall as Candace, a woman with a dubious past, Harold Perrineau as Julian, one of the many men in the film who makes bad decisions Nia Long as Reality TV star Jordan, Melissa DeSousa as career woman Shelby, Sanaa Lathan as Robyn, the woman who finally made an honest man out of Harper and Monica Calhoun as the ‘mother’ of the group, Mia. None of the characters are particularly well fleshed out, or drawn outside of stereotypical lines, so the one who does best here is Howard, as the comic relief Quentin.
Malcolm D. Lee’s screenplay sees friends re-united and old arguments begin again. Lance is so openly hostile and passive aggressive with Harper from the moment they see one another that it is hard to imagine anyone would stay for more of that treatment. As well as this, it is quite easy to see how the story of crossed wires, deception and scheming will pan out, so there is hardly a surprise throughout the whole film. Add to this the always winning emotionally blackmailing cocktail of Christmas and cancer, and you have a thinly sketched, predictable manipulative film that pretty much tells the audience when they should be crying.
Lee directs with a heavy hand, overplaying scenes from emotional impact so that the audience may feel as though they are being manipulated into feeling something for these characters, and each character reacts oddly to every situation; hugging a friend may lead to a couple not speaking, but a baby being born on the day of a funeral has everyone jumping for joy. Really? As well as this, the characters have all seemingly fought to get to the top of their chosen careers, and act with grace until they are threatened, then suddenly catfights break out in the halls and the N word is flying around with abandon. Odd.
The Best Man Holiday is an emotionally manipulative, meandering mess of a film. Christmas and cancer may lead to cinema crying, but for all the manic shenanigans happening in the film, there is actually very little else going on. Friendships may be mended by tragedy, but The Best Man Holiday feels as though it is beating the audience over the head with its ‘happy’ ending.