Title: The Best Man Holiday

Director: Malcom D. Lee (‘The Best Man Holiday, ‘Undercover Brother’)

Starring: Monica Calhoun, Morris Chestnut, Eddie Cibrian, Melissa De Sousa, Taye Diggs, Terrence Howard, Sanaa Lathan, Nia Long and Harold Perrineau

People are often intrigued by watching those around them shamelessly engage in relentless emotional, and even physical, battles with those they care about the most, as they struggle to overcome their difference of opinions. Even when they know it’s in their best interest to mend the broken bonds, particularly with those who have long impacted their lives, people often resort to shun their friends who have mistakenly wronged them in the past. The relatable struggle of trying to reconnect with the friends who have had the biggest influence in their lives is comically and sentimentally chronicled in the new comedy ‘The Best Man Holiday,’ the long-awaited sequel to writer-director Malcolm D. Lee’s hit breakout film, ‘The Best Man.’

‘The Best Man Holiday’ picks up nearly 15 years after the closing frames of its predecessor. Now a successful player for the New York Giants, the religiously devoted Lance (Morris Chestnut) is pondering retirement to spend more time with his wife, Mia (Monica Calhoun), and their four children. The two are still estranged from his college friend Harper (Taye Diggs), now a best-selling author and faculty member at New York University, whose wife, Robyn (Sanaa Lathan), is finally pregnant.

Their friend Murch (Harold Perrineau) and his wife, Candy (Regina Hall), are now running a prestigious school, while the notorious ladies man, Quentin (Terrence Howard), is now running a brand management company. Jordan (Nia Long) is an Emmy-award winning network producer at MSNBC, who has finally found love with Brian (Eddie Cibrian), but is still afraid of commitment.

Despite all of their successes, the group hasn’t had a proper reunion since Lance and Mia’s wedding. Mia decides to mend their estranged friendships by inviting everyone, including Murch’s ex, Shelby (Melissa De Sousa), and their respective children to their house to celebrate Christmas together. But drama quickly ensues when they discover how easy it is for their long-forgotten rivalries to be reignited.

Lee once again created an authentic, relatable and comedic insight into the complicated relationships people often struggle with as they contend with the realities of adulthood, in ‘The Best Man Holiday.’ From marriages struggling to maintain the love amidst the challenges of financial worry and raising children, to strained friendships over the mistakes people made in their past, the writer-director effortlessly showcased the real trials and tribulations people must overcome to realize how meaningful their lives really are. Whether Lance is continuously trying to find ways to forgive Mia and Harper for sleeping together before their wedding, or Robyn is struggling with her husband’s close friendship with Jordan, the comedy showcases the emotional conflicts even the closest friends and families deal with, even during the holidays. But the filmmaker’s script fearlessly doesn’t shy away from incorporating the characters’ natural, easy banter with each other that shone through in the hit original film.

The cast easily reunited and bonded to once again naturally infuse humor and comedic banter into a realistic story that also ardently explores such serious issues as fear of not being loved and finding the willpower to forgive those who are trying to atone for their past mistakes. But the most amusing performance was given by Howard, whose quick wit instantly took the edge off even the most drastic and harrowing situations. Whether playfully making jokes at Murch’s expense when Shelby tries to sexually seduce herself back into his life, or mocking Harper’s inability to finally reconnect with Lance, Howard always found an amusing way to embrace everyone’s friendships and bring them back together.

‘The Best Man Holiday’s costume designer, Danielle Hollowell, also effortlessly emphasized the differing personalities and tension between the friends as they reunite at Lance and Mia’s house. Howard, for example, was often outfitted by Hollowell in sleek, polished suits and sweaters to showcase how proud Quentin is of his career accomplishments, and to impress those around him. The costume designer also perfectly summed up Shelby’s uninhibited, unrestrained and flashy personality of shamelessly going after what she wants by wearing low-cut, tight dresses and big fur coats. Hollowell didn’t shy away from fully embracing the characters’ distinct, quirky personalities when designing their distinct outfits they regularly wore throughout their time together.

‘The Best Man Holiday’ is a comedic and relatable follow-up into Lee’s breakout 1999 writing and directorial debut. The filmmaker naturally offered a natural insight into the complicated relationships people often contend with as they try to find ways to cope with the realities of adulthood. The cast, who was amusingly guided by Howard quick wit, effortlessly bonded on screen once again to incorporate humor into the sequel’s at-times harrowing storylines. With the help of Holloweel’s inspired costume designs, Lee effortlessly showcased the real trials and tribulations people must overcome to realize how meaningful their lives really are.

Technical: B

Acting: B+

Story: B

Overall: B

Written by: Karen Benardello

The Best Man Holiday Movie Review

By Karen Benardello

As a graduate of LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic, Karen Benardello serves as ShockYa's Senior Movies & Television Editor. Her duties include interviewing filmmakers and musicians, and scribing movie, television and music reviews and news articles. As a New York City-area based journalist, she's a member of the guilds, New York Film Critics Online and the Women Film Critics Circle.

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