THE BEST MAN HOLIDAY
By Gary Murray
Starring Taye Diggs, Morris Chestnut, Terrence Howard and Monica Calhoun
Written and directed by Malcolm Lee
Running time 120 min
MPAA Rating R
Selig Film Rating Cable
The Best Man Holiday is the sequel from the 1999 film The Best Man. The original film was a modest hit that grossed much more than its budget and did massive numbers in DVD sales. It was nominated for different awards and picked-up a few trophies.
The sequel starts with different snippets from the first film, giving the audience a taste of the first film and the characters involved. It catches the audience up on fifteen years.
The focus of the beginning is on Harper (Taye Diggs). He’s a writer who is in a slump, having his latest novel rejected. His publisher suggests that he write a bio of Lance (Morris Chestnut) a football player who is about to retire and break the NFL rushing record. Lance has a focus of “God, family and football.”
The two men had a massive split from the first film and no longer talk. Lance’s wife Mia (Monica Calhoun) has invited the entire gang to their mansion for the Christmas holiday. Everyone shows up and the sparks fly.
Shelby (Melissa De Sousa) has become a reality television star and lives in full diva mode. Julian (Harold Perrineau) runs a school and his having trouble with financing and his marriage. A video has surfaced that causes troubles. Quentin (Terrence Howard) is a guy who just wants to party. Everyone in the cast has some kind of personal challenge that affects the others in the group.
The film is of how being in such close quarters brings about old emotional wounds. Since different people have been bedfellows, there is a sexual tension that runs throughout the house.
As the group gets closer to Christmas, a tragedy with a character rears up and changes the group dynamic. It all climaxes in Lance’s final game of the regular season and his attempt at breaking the rushing record.
The part of the film that was the most important was in the design of the characters. Every African-American in the film is a part of the upper middle class, being an element of successful Manhattan society. They are all thriving in their careers and are making a difference in the world. It is a positive reflection of how to make it through education and drive.
This cast is impressive. Terrence Howard shines in his supporting role, delivering comic jab time and time again. He saves the film on more than one occasion. The same can be said about Melissa De Sousa. She is over the top to the point that she is almost a caricature, attacking her friends just because she can.
Both Taye Diggs and Morris Chestnut are remarkable leading men who are both stubborn and loving within the same beats. Each is dealing with personal challenges while trying to keep a brave face. They are two actors who prove that they can handle the leading man roles and should get more shots at feature performances.
The biggest problem with The Best Man Holiday is with the screenplay structure. It goes from mirth to pathos with extremes that resemble riding a rollercoaster. This film plunges into the depths of weepy melodrama then pulls out with a joke. It becomes a schizophrenic exercise that yo-yo’s the audience.
The other problem is in the editing. When one notices the edits, then they are too hard and heavy. On more than one occasion, the film chops along, scene to scene. It is not smooth on a large screen.
To be honest, The Best Man Holiday is not truly made for me, an old white guy. It is made for the young, hip urban audience. That audience will probably enjoy the experience but I found the film well-acted but a bit trite.