By Vanessa Martinez | Shadow and Act November 16, 2013 at 12:26PM
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.