Review: Tearjerker 'The Best Man Holiday' is a Satisfying Follow-up To Original

Reviews
by Vanessa Martinez
November 16, 2013 12:26 PM
24 Comments
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Malcolm D. Lee’s highly anticipated sequel to The Best Man brings back the talented and gorgeous cast from the hit original 1998 romantic comedy/drama. The film alternates from tearjerker drama to comedy, which has been proven to work as a formula – along with some very familiar crass humor - usually present in this genre of black films, especially Tyler Perry’s. 

However, Lee’s script is a notch above the material of the aforementioned filmmaker; the writing is superior; the scenes are more carefully orchestrated. Across the board, all the actors performed their roles with aplomb, thanks to the well-established dynamics amongst cast members, and direction.

The Best Man Holiday begins providing a glimpse of the characters’ lives, seemingly idyllic, since the first film. Jordan (Nia Long) is now an über successful businesswoman, well-known in the African American community and media; Harper (Taye Diggs) is a best selling author, who is now struggling. There’s our golden couple Lance (Morris Chestnut) and Mia (Monica Calhoun), the backbone of this circle of friends, happily married with children. The latter is the heart of the film, and, the main conflict – once again – involves the traditional and faithful Lance, whose life, including his successful football career, has been "optioned" for Harper’s (Taye Diggs) new book – unbeknownst to Lance himself. 

The characters are back in full form, and they find themselves in some ‘déjà vu’ predicaments: Lance’s contempt towards Harper, who seems to hold back from now pregnant wife Robyn (Sanaa Lathan); Shelby (Melissa De Sousa) hasn’t fully come to terms with the breakup with Julian (Harrold Perrineau), who is trying to overcome Candace’s past as a stripper (and, well, there’s the video); Quentin (Terrence Howard) is still a bachelor and a playboy (providing most of the film’s comic relief); and there’s a lingering “something” between Harper and Jordan (Nia Long), who has a new man in her life (the only non-black character played by Eddie Cibrian), whom she is trying to open up her heart to. 

There are certainly some plot contrivances, along with some dialogue and situational cliché’s. Some of the characters’ storylines were more intriguing than others, but the film effectively tugs at your heartstrings and touches on issues which are relevant to adults of this age-group: marital problems, faith and the lack-thereof, sickness, fertility and money issues, parenting, the legacy of friendship and its rivalries, commitment phobia, among others. Perhaps what is most surprising is how much of a tearjerker it is, seemingly much more so than its predecessor. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, especially when, like in this case, actors of caliber know their characters very well, emoting accordingly and convincingly. 

Overall, it’s a competent and well-acted follow-up to the original. If you loved the first one, you won’t be disappointed with this Holiday reunion.

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24 Comments

  • Darkwater | November 18, 2013 12:15 PMReply

    Uhm...the formula for this movie predates Tyler Perry by quite a few years, and I think we do Lee an injustice to say it is Tyler Perry-esque. Maybe Tyler Perry's ensemble movies with a cast of significant others with issues is Malcolm Lee-esque instead.

  • Donella | November 21, 2013 5:17 PM

    The only TP that compares is Why Did I Get Married? Probably the strongest writing of all his films.

  • Rocket | November 18, 2013 6:58 PM

    I agree with you on the formula. It actually predates Lee as well. My response is more to people who jump to point out that this film is so "different" from Perry's work. It just shows that some of Perry's work is not as left field as his detractors make it out to be. No one's recreating the wheel here.

  • Darkan | November 18, 2013 11:52 AMReply

    It's amazing how people continue to compare this film to Tyler Perry when the Best Man existed long before anyone heard the name Tyler Perry and is considered an urban classic. SMDH.

  • CC | November 18, 2013 10:15 AMReply

    A woman with a stripper's past... plot contrivances... faith and the lack-thereof... one non-black character... a bachelor playboy... tearjerker and a grandmother name Madea. Opps, she wasn't among these "beautiful" people. But let's not fool ourselves, if Tyler gave this cast a call they'd beat Spike Lee to his door step.

  • lilkunta | November 17, 2013 4:46 PMReply

    after 14 yrs shelby isnt over julian ? come on!

  • Tai | November 20, 2013 8:45 PM

    They made Shelby become Mia's line [sorority] sister for this movie. It wasn't mentioned in the original, but they needed a reason for her to be in the sequel. On another note, you can think feelings are dormant, but old flames may arise when you see that person has moved on and they're happy. It's not unbelievable.

  • Stan | November 20, 2013 10:12 AM

    People carry torches for long periods of time. And Shelby is invited because she is part of the original circle before he met Candace.

  • Mr. Spoiler alert | November 18, 2013 9:00 AM

    I totally agree. In the original, the Shelby chic was a thorn in the side of the wedding. It felt as if she wasn't apart of the college friends clique. She gets dumped…
    Now she's cool with everyone. And why in the hell would you invite her. If anything, have her show up midway thru the movie, to turn the plodding 2nd act.

    The football player story….so this dude gets the rushing record,
    wife dies from cancer,
    and delivers a breached baby in a moving vehicle all before the New Year.
    No Hype.
    No Hate.
    Just honest healthy criticism.

  • Taz | November 17, 2013 5:56 PM

    LOL. I would say after 14 years Shelby isn't over being dumped for a stripper.

  • Monique a williams | November 17, 2013 12:27 PMReply

    This film doesn't change lives. It doesn't inspire community service. It doesn't offer insight into historical figures and situations. What it DOES do however, is offer a warm, relatable story that is a pleasure to enjoy, performances that resonate. It's a non-Tyler Perry film with beautiful people, with characters who are dynamic, authentic and human, not Black and down on their luck because they're Black. This film is melodramatic without inducing eye rolls, due to the strong performances and genuine rapport of the actors. The Best Man Holiday is a satisfying wrap-up of a story that for many has a special place in our hearts about a time in our lives where we imagined a different trajectory for Black Cinema, and a confidence that it can continue on this path of diverse storytelling.

    This isn't a film for everyone. But for those like me, it hits all the notes. And, based on the numbers, there are many more like me than people anticipated...

  • Donella | November 21, 2013 5:21 PM

    @Stan, if you watch Friends With Kids (Maya Rudolph, Kristin Wiig, John Hamm), you'll note an entire scene lifted from Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married.

    Hint: couples retreat to a cabin where "secrets" are revealed amongst a group of thirty-something married friends.

  • Tai | November 20, 2013 8:46 PM

    It doesn't inspire community service? Did you miss the soup kitchen scene?

  • Stan | November 20, 2013 10:19 AM

    I don't understand even the need to compare this to TP work. Aren't most movies of this type along the same lines? I see dramedies with white casts run the same way, and they don't have to be the best movie ever. Nothing is, since "best" is subjective.

    This story matches any other genre movie out, it just happens to have a majorily Black cast. If it was something with non-POC, would we still be comparing it to a TP movie?

  • Agent K | November 19, 2013 7:16 PM

    It's Tyler Perry light.

  • Monique a Williams | November 18, 2013 7:46 AM

    It's easy on the surface to compare it to a TP flick, hence my mention of the beautiful people. The difference however is in the performances and the roundness of characters where TP keeps them flat. Always the good or evil. And the Bible thumping makes me literally sick to my stomach. The faith expressed in this was tolerable for this particular non-believer.
    Again, this movie ain't for everyone. It's not the best movie I've ever seen, but does every movie have to be? It was a pleasure, a great date night or GNO. And after watching crap like Baggage Claim this year, I'm satisfied.

  • Rocket | November 17, 2013 11:13 PM

    "It's a non-Tyler Perry film with beautiful people..."

    Not to pick, but I keep seeing variations of this theme out there. Lee himself said something similar. Saw it with the wife this weekend. And yes, it does have some strong TP overlap.

    A bunch of well to do black couples get together for a weekend. Over the course of their time together each couple's flaws and secrets come out and everyone is changed after they leave. That sounds A LOT like "Why Did I Get Married". And there is nothing wrong with that. That doesn't matter to me one bit. But the idea that this was far and away nothing like a Perry film is incorrect. At times it felt very much like a TP film.

  • Hector | November 17, 2013 2:48 PM

    Thank you Sergio. lol

  • Monique a Williams | November 17, 2013 12:45 PM

    I don't see how you got that out of what I wrote. I was clear in saying it wasn't for everyone. But naysayers live to be contrary. *shrugs*

  • sergio | November 17, 2013 12:33 PM

    Jssus Christ you're making sound like the Citizen Kane of black cinema

  • 90056 | November 17, 2013 11:05 AMReply

    The movie was average at best…but the hype and marketing was amazing. Congrats to those that oversaturate our consciousness with this product. You win...

  • kiara | November 17, 2013 7:25 AMReply

    I will wait to see it. On every movie the first weekend all the "fanboys" go, but normal folks like to wait. that's how I got jipped on Tyler perry. The second weekend tells the truth.

  • PureEGO | November 17, 2013 6:29 AMReply

    The movie was freaking amazing.

  • scripttease | November 16, 2013 2:06 PMReply

    I'm looking forward to seeing this film with my in-laws. At first I didn't think it was going to do well when they first announced the sequel, but as time progressed, people got hyped. Love Black Folks in film. #January062014

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