“The Best Man Holiday” cast reunites after 14 years

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Lee Henry

Usually, sequels are cranked out as quickly as Hollywood can produce them, whether the demand from the audience is there or not. “The Best Man Holiday” is a marked exception to the rule, hitting theaters a full 14 years after 1999’s “The Best Man.” While the sequel took a while to surface, it features an entertaining mix of raucous humor and touchy-feely moments, and functions as a perfect palate cleanser in a fall film season full of downers.

“The Best Man Holiday” begins with its considerable cast of characters reuniting 15 years after Lance (Morris Chestnut) and Mia’s (Monica Calhoun) drama-filled wedding. At the end of the last film, Harper (Taye Diggs) published a successful novel that topped the best-seller list, but the sequel finds him recently laid off and unable to duplicate that success. Unable to tell his pregnant wife Robyn (Sanaa Lathan), Harper decides to reunite with his friends at Lance and Mia’s house with the intention of secretly writing a biography on retiring football star Lance. It’s a flimsy excuse to get the cast under one roof, but all the characters bring along their own melodramatic baggage. 

It isn’t likely that audiences will watch “The Best Man Holiday” to pick out plot holes or comment on its implausibility. Regardless of the film’s narrative shortcomings, it is extremely entertaining. Terrence Howard delights as Quentin, a bachelor who impishly meanders from scene to scene and does whatever he can to stir the pot. Regina Hall, best known as Brenda from the “Scary Movie” series, goes over the top at times, but primarily serves as an emotional touchstone for the massive ensemble. The entire cast fires on all cylinders and carries the film through its many implausible moments.

“The Best Man Holiday” is at its funniest in the film’s first 45 minutes — the cast clicks wonderfully and writer and director Malcolm Lee’s direction zips the film along. It begins to sag quickly, relying on bursts of humor from Howard and his co-stars to lift it out of the melodrama it occasionally wanders into. Despite its weaknesses, “The Best Man Holiday” is a fun, but occasionally weepy, two hours that does what it’s designed to: give its audience a reprieve from the array of highbrow depressing dramas that surround it this season.