After about a month of procrastination followed by a day and a half of cabin fever, I finally broke down and went to see the movie The Best Man Holiday on Friday night. I saw The Best Man on DVD a few years ago (I wasn’t interested enough to go see it at the movies fifteen years ago) and it was just ok for me. Nonetheless, I wanted to see if all the hype about the sequel was justified. By many accounts I read on social media, The Best Man Holiday was supposedly one of the greatest films ever, although I never believe anyone who says that, simply because of the subjective nature of art, and the ghetto fab taste in films of many of my friends and acquaintances. According to several people I knew who had seen it, it was impossible to watch the movie and not cry.
For the two remaining individuals on earth who haven’t seen The Best Man Holiday yet, I will not spoil it per se with any specifics, although in many ways it kind of spoils itself. The film features some exceptional acting to bring to life a rather predictable script. It is entertaining nonetheless, and does a great job of bringing to life a multidimensional core of characters who have all clearly evolved since the initial Best Man. Intricate plot twists are not always necessary, especially in a holiday romantic comedy, but I would just rather not sit and wait for telegraphed punches to finally hit me in the face.
Almost from the beginning, I felt like The Best Man Holiday was trying hard to make me feel sad. That part actually worked often, but I still resented the fact that the attempts to play with the audience’s emotions like the strings of a harp were so blatantly obvious. It was like if you didn’t feel sad, you should feel bad for not feeling sad. That seemed like too much work to me, so I semi-reluctantly followed the story’s suggestions and went with the flow, with one exception: I was determined not to cry.
I have cried watching movies before. The Color Purple. Schindler’s List. Glory. The Five Heartbeats. Yes, The Five Heartbeats. There have been a few others that have sucker punched me also, but it has been many years since a movie made me cry. Unless it was on Lifetime. And I don’t watch Lifetime movies. Hey, did you guys see the game yesterday? Moving along.
At the part where I was supposed to cry, I didn’t. I may have put forth some extra resistance because I knew the attempt was coming, but I still wouldn’t have cried even if I wasn’t on guard. Even without the advance buzz on the street I would have seen it coming from a mile away. You could have had Anthony Hamilton and Marsha Ambrosius singing a Stevie Wonder song at a dramatic point in the movie and it still wouldn’t have made me cry. I’m just saying, you could have had that. From the beginning, I said to myself “there are two things that could happen in this movie that could possibly make someone cry. One of them will happen. The other will not.” I quickly placed my internal bet with myself on which one would happen, when it would happen, and how it would happen. I hoped I was wrong. That would be too easy.
I wasn’t. And it was.
Still, the cast chemistry alone was worth the price of admission. The continuation of the tension between Lance Sullivan (Morris Chestnut) and Harper Stewart (Taye Diggs) from the first film was played out masterfully. The arc of development of the characters’ lives since the original film was very creatively scripted, though perhaps a bit far fetched. The coincidence card was played a little often and a little too obviously for my tastes, but it is a feel good holiday movie and ultimately does what it is intended to do.
One of the greatest ever? Well, that’s a tad ambitious. But so too is The Best Man Holiday. It was an enjoyable night of cinema.
Brian C. Scott