Blallywood Film Review: The Best Man Holiday
The Best Man, released in 1999, premiered to fair critical acclaim. It was a warm and funny movie about college friends just before a high profile wedding in their circle. Heavily ensemble based, the characters were upwardly mobile, educated, and attractive young black people at the beginning of their adult lives out of college. It was charming and became a favorite among countless college age and post-college age black youth. We connected with their personalities. We felt like we knew them. So much so that fourteen years later, we still care.
In the holiday inspired sequel, The Best Man Holiday, Mia has invited everyone to her and Lance’s home to spend Christmas week. Mia has planned a few days’ worth of luxurious activities and her and Lance roll the red carpet out for their friends. Their time together isn’t executed without some trepidation of course. Harper and Lance specifically still harbor tension about Harper and Mia having sex in college, and the tension is complicated by some ulterior motives. Harper is there with hopes of reviving his dwindling writing career by writing a biography on Lance in the wake of his very public NFL retirement. Mia also has troubling news she needs to share with everyone.
The film, harping on its nostalgic element, opens with a swift review of where we left off. Without that, I probably would have had trouble remembering the base storyline. The film also fills us in on what everyone’s been doing the past 14 years. It gives us a moment to reflect on what was most endearing about these memorable characters. And everyone has returned in his or her original role. It’s a real delight to see these beautiful black actors together again. There is a wealth of talent on the screen. Standouts include Terrance Howard as Quentin- he is wry, raw, and hilarious and Sanaa Lathan as Robin. Lathan never ceases to amaze me. She is so connected and communicates beautiful vulnerability as a very pregnant Robin. Monica Calhoun as Mia was largely forgettable in the first film, but really does a great job this time around. She seems to have grown so much as an actress. Her performance as Mia is heartbreakingly warm and nuanced.
There are some basic production flaws. I noticed a few continuity errors in two scenes- Nia Long’s first scene in her office with Taye Diggs and in one of the ending scenes with Diggs and Howard. There are also a few moments when the plot didn’t seem to progress believably. Strange technology malfunctions like an IPad turning on by itself and a cell phone playing a video without human manipulation. I’ve never known these devices to behave this way, yet this was how major plot information was revealed. There were also moments when dialogue was a bit trite and predictable.
The Best Man Holiday grossed a little over 50 million in its first 3 weekends keeping up with big budget projects like The Hunger Games: Catching Fire and Thor. It was such a success that Universal is already planning a third film. It is increasingly important that we support films that tell our stories. The Best Man Holiday is one of those films. The way people are portrayed in media affects how communities are perceived in the real world. And I believe that there is a direct correlation between perception and the shaping of public policy. We are a varied and diverse community, and we should be portrayed as such.
Overall the film, though a bit bland, was appropriately warm and fuzzy. Though I still wish for new and fresh material, it’s a decent addition to any holiday movie list. B-