Best Man Holiday
by Hope Madden
One film opening this weekend guarantees to make you laugh and cry, or kill you trying. It’s Best Man Holiday, the most exuberantly emotionally manipulative film, perhaps ever.
The entire cast of 1999’s Best Man returns, gathering to celebrate the holidays at the home of the old bride and groom, Mia (Monica Calhoun) and Lance Sullivan (Morris Chestnut). It appears that the Sullivans are doing well for themselves, living in a New York mansion with four well behaved and impossibly well groomed children.
The formulaic gathering lets us all catch up on how life treated Quentin (Terrence Howard), Shelby (Melissa de Sousa), Candace (Regina Hal) and Julian (Harold Perrineau), and Jordan (Nia Long). Did they all settle down? Find success?
This is a film that knows its audience. If you fell in love with this crew back in 1999, Best Man Holiday is looking at you. Don’t you want to check back in, see how the fellas are faring 14 years later? Maybe, like you, they’ve moved on to family, career. How do they look mid-life without their shirts?
Pretty damn good.
If you are not this very specific target audience, you don’t mean much to Best Man Holiday. It’s a movie that is out to please, but not to please everyone. The target audience is like a woman who wants bacon and eggs for breakfast, so her man makes her bacon and eggs. If you prefer pancakes, who cares? This breakfast is not for you.
With its one, very specific goal, there is no denying that BMH succeeds. As a real movie, though, it has more than a few problems.
The cast generates a charming chemistry, and their sense of fun and tenderness buoys the otherwise cliché riddled, wildly heavy-handed script by director Malcolm D. Lee. No serving of side dishes with this holiday ham is light, whether it’s the raucous sex, the silly comedy, the sermonizing, or the tear jerking.
You will foresee every single plot point 40 minutes before it happens, as this film is bound and determine to surprise no one. But Terrence Howard gets off some very funny lines and Morris Chestnut looks good, and if you’re not paying close attention, it might not even occur to you to wonder where they found matching boy band outfits for their talent show.
On the whole, you won’t want to pay very close attention to this one.