MOVIE REVIEW: Best Man Holiday

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THE BEST MAN HOLIDAY
DIRECTOR: Malcolm D Lee
CAST: Morris Chestnut, Taye Diggs, Sanaa Lathan, Monica Calhoun, Harold Perrineau, Regina Hall, Terrence Howard and Melissa De Sousa
CLASSIFICATION: 16LS
RUNNING TIME: 123 minutes
RATING: ***

 

WHEN I watched The Best Man Holiday I was a virgin to the franchise. But I finally understood what all the hullabaloo was about.

Malcolm D Lee covers myriad relationships – dissecting each one with a healthy serving of humour – often bordering on the playfully risqué, and balancing it with a sense of real-life candour and emotions that move the audience to tears.

Aside from his adroitness as a storyteller and director, he is working with a stellar celebrity cast – each one a tour de force in their respective role. And he has struck a commendable balance between the comic-relief and conflicted characters.

With this sequel taking over a decade to reach our screen, Lee also gave the story time to breathe and picks up from where every adored character is in their life post The Best Man.

Harper Stewart’s (Diggs) career is on a downward spiral. Fired from NYU – something he conceals from a heavily-pregnant Robin (Lathan), his agent is on his case about delivering another bestseller following his dud last release.

Julian Murch (Perrineau) and his former stripper wife Candace (Hall) are now playing happy family with their two kids… until a video of her past surfaces, with a major benefactor, erring on his moral side, deciding to withdraw his support for the school they run. Then there’s highflying career-driven Jordan Armstrong (Long) who’s commitment-phobia gets in the way of her romance with Brian McDonald (Eddie Cibrian). And sex-kitten reality star, Shelby (De Sousa), creates havoc with her meddlesome ways, while Quentin Spivey (Howard) clings on to his bachelorhood like leather pants on a sweltering summer’s day.

They are all brought together for Christmas by Mia (Calhoun) and Lance Sullivan (Chestnut). Picture perfect setting aside, everyone conceals their own failings and problems, at first.

The tension between Harper and Lance reaches boiling point and the cracks in everyone’s relationships start surfacing. However, the news of Mia, who has incurable cancer, forces everyone to re-evaluate their life and mistakes.

When you have such a large cast, it becomes quite the juggling act doing justice to all the storylines. That’s where Lee’s proficiency becomes apparent.

He captures the whole “boys club” vibe with their scenes comprising crass jokes and sport talk and offsets that with lots of skin shots and sexy lingerie with the gals having their own catch-up moment. In between that, he masterfully handles their respective relationship woes with their partners and each other.

The Best Man Holiday kicks off on a more light-hearted note – with tons of tongue-in-cheek TV show references, which then meanders into more poignant territory. The star for me is Calhoun and her marvellous depiction of a wife, mother and woman. She handles her characters gracefulness with commendable dexterity, especially as her character’s cancer worsens and she realises she is going to soon be leaving behind her adorable kids and loving husband, who has yet to accept that she is dying,

This is a film about friendships, faith and family and, laden with bittersweet moments, triggers those tear ducts.

Tyler Perry eat your heart out – Lee has got that Midas touch too!

If you liked The Best Man, Jumping the Broom and most of Tyler Perry’s movies, you should enjoy this.

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