Fourteen years after the events of The Best Man, professional running back Lance Sullivan (Morris Chestnut) is a handful of yards away from breaking the all-time rushing record in the NFL. He’s also still happily married to Mia (Monica Calhoun) and they have four children. With Christmas approaching, Mia invites their old friends to the Sullivan home for the holidays.
Harper (Taye Diggs) is struggling with writer’s block after his book from the first movie, Unfinished Business, was a massive success. He’s also recently been let go from his teaching position at NYU, but as yet to tell his wife Robyn (Sanaa Lathan), who is a rising chef in the culinary world and also nearly nine months pregnant with their first child after fertility treatments and past miscarriages. Jordan (Nia Long) is a successful network executive and in a long term relationship with a man named Brian (Eddie Cibrian), though she seems to have placed her career over any desires of the heart.
Quentin (Terrence Howard) has found his own success, as has Shelby (Melissa De Sousa) who is now a famous reality star on Real Housewives. Candice (Regina Hall) and Julian (Harold Perrineau) are married and have two daughters and have opened a school for underprivileged kids. The school depends heavily on donations, and their wealthiest donor, a man of high morals, has pulled his support of the school after discovering Candace’s past as a stripper.
Harper and Lance have had a strained friendship after it was revealed that Harper and Mia slept together in college, and it’s clear as soon as Harper and Robyn arrived at the Sullivan home that Lance still holds a grudge, though he tries to hide it behind snarky comments and subtle digs. That’s not the only tension in the house. Shelby, who is finally given something resembling a real personality, causes discord with everyone, but most notably with Candace. Robyn is still insecure and jealous of Jordan’s past almost-love affair with Harper, and Julian is struggling with the knowledge that Candace accepted money for sexual favors years before they ever met, which is putting his school at risk. Occasionally I wanted to just yell “Get over it already!” but honestly, I get it. Resentments and jealousies are hard to get rid of, especially when you distance yourself from people and let those issues fester, rather than dealing with them head-on, something this group of longtime friends has clearly come together to do, even if they don’t initially realize it.
Eventually, all of these simmering problems boil over and come to a head, especially when Lance realizes Harper is writing a biography on him behind his back. But when it’s revealed that one of their own is dying, priorities begin to shift, and old grudges fall away for understanding and reconnections.
I really did love the first movie when it was released, and I still enjoy watching it to this day. Dare I say that The Best Man Holiday is even better than The Best Man? The ensemble is still amazing, and just like the first film, you truly feel these characters’ connections to one another. The history between them, dating all the way back to college, is palpable and real, and I really believe that’s a difficult task to pull off with an ensemble of this size. It would be easy to focus solely on one or two characters and shove the others to the background, but The Best Man Holiday gives ample and much deserved time to everyone, and thankfully the movie doesn’t suffer for it.
Expect plenty of melodrama, but there is also a lot of raunchy humor and tender moments. I really wasn’t expecting the amount of devastation I would feel towards the end of the movie, but that’s how skilled director Malcolm D. Lee has been at weaving a cohesive story over two movies with a group of characters that can, at times be unlikeable, but are also easy to care about and for.
Like so many Christmas films, The Best Man Holiday is about the faith we put in one another (and God, if that’s your thing), and recognizing that the things that truly matter will always overcome the petty squabbles and drama. After all, life is far too short to hold onto past grudges. The end is heartfelt and funny, certainly leaving it open for the possibility of a third film. After a bit of digging, I found that Lee does plan on a third movie called The Best Man Wedding, but it’s been delayed indefinitely until they find the right time to do it. Here’s hoping it won’t take them another 14 years as it had with the first sequel!