Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Movie Review: The Best Man Holiday (Holidaze 2013)

After nearly 15 years apart, Taye Diggs (television's Private Practice), Nia Long (Soul Food), Morris Chestnut (Kick-Ass 2), Harold Perrineau (Zero Dark Thirty), Terrence Howard (Hustle and Flow), Sanaa Lathan (Contagion), Monica Calhoun (Love and Basketball), Melissa De Sousa (Miss Congeniality) and Regina Hall (Scary Movie franchise) reprise their career-launching roles in The Best Man Holiday, the long-awaited next chapter to the film that ushered in a new era of comedy. When the college friends finally reunite over the Christmas holidays, they will discover just how easy it is for long-forgotten rivalries and romances to be ignited.

#1 don't judge me because I think The Best Man is one of my favorite movies.  Its really good!
#2 yeah okay I may have gotten some weird looks from folk when I went to see this by myself
#3 I forgot how much I love Morris Chestnut.  How did that happen?!

So I had no idea this movie was coming out.  I had no idea there was a sequel in the works at all for a movie that I enjoyed so very much back in HS.  Normally I'd be questioning, if not downright dismissive, but this movie is everything I could have asked for in a sequel I never knew I needed.

The trailer is a little misleading...well all the trailers I've seen were very misleading about the overall tone of the movie.  Much like The Best Man, this movie tackles a (large) group of friends who all went in very different directions in life, but who come together when it matters most.  The opening credits feature of montage of what happened in the first movie and where those characters are now. 

Mia (Monica Calhoun) and Lance (Morris Chestnut) are settled into their lives with Lance retiring from a (very) successful and record breaking NFL career while Mia raises their 4 children.  Shelby (Melissa de Sousa) has a daughter and is one of those "Housewives" that are so (in)famous.  Harper (Taye Diggs) is struggling to find his next best seller while his wife Robyn (Sanaa Lathan) struggles to feel useful while pregnant.  Jordan (Nia Long) is wildly successful in her career, but is trying to maintain her independence while boyfriend Brian (Eddie Cibrian) tries to take their relationship further.  And lastly Julian (Harold Perrineau) tries to salvage donors for his school after a video is leaked of his wife/school counselor Candace's (Regina Hall) past a stripper comes to light.  Oh and lest we forget Quentin (Terrance Howard), who hasn't really changed all that much, but shows an unexpectedly sensitive side to both Harper's problems and Shelby's daughter.

Like I said there are a lot of folk to keep track of.

For a lot of people this may not be for them.  If you didn't see The Best Man go watch it then the references to issues that came up in that movie (Shelby coming onto Julian non-stop, why Lance and Harper stopped talking, Candace's past, the irony of Jordan's love interest, etc) may be confusing at first.  Writer/Director Malcolm D. Lee (also of the first movie) doesn't really expect a newcomer to the movie.  He expects his audience to already know the deal and only briefly rehashes some of the tensions.

For those who did see the first movie, it was nice to see Mia strive for some reconciliation between Lance and Harper.  Not the tepid tenuous truce they sort of came to, but actual reconciliation.  She demands of Lance to come to terms that it was not just Harper who was part of the fling they had.  That she knew what she was doing and she was sorry she chose Harper, but she was to blame as well.  Morris' face and reaction to this scene was powerful, as you could see the man who wanted to blame his former best friend completely because he was scared to blame the woman he cared for more then almost anything else.

I've always viewed The Best Man as one of those movies that shaped how I viewed adult relationships.  Tossing aside the completely African-American cast, the struggles they faced as they changed and sought to grow and put down roots, well that could have been anyone.  Maybe I'm seeing the movie through rose-tinted glasses, but if the cast had been Asian or Hispanic or Caucasian it wouldn't have changed the message itself (though some of the slang would have to be adjusted since Quentin in particular is fond of using words and phrases that would not be acceptable for a non-African American to use...actually short digression at one point there is a rather meta-conversation on this topic at the beginning of the get together, with Quentin saying the "n" word should be banned from every day use just as "homo" became banned...only seconds later he uses the "n" several times when greeting more of their friends.  His friends seem to get the irony of the situation while he seems oblivious).

The reason Mia felt a need to call them altogether again (when you get the impression that while some of them hung out individually, as a group they hadn't been together since the first movie) is pretty obvious, though I give Calhoun credit for being able to pull it off.  The revelation is less of a shock then a realization that no one noticed.  Beneath the 'oh its so good to see you' and 'why haven't we done this sooner' conversations, everyone was caught up in their own problems too much too notice. 

In the end the movie wraps up as you'd expect.  I had some tears in my eyes.  Regardless of knowing the inevitable when it comes to pass you can't help but feel like it wasn't fair.  But much like the first movie fair isn't something handed to you, fair is what you make of what you are handed.