9 Random Facts About 'The Best Man Holiday' CastBack in 1999, Malcolm D. Lee brought us The Best Man, which, at the time, was a refreshing and somewhat unique picture that offered an African American audience characters to relate to and be inspired by, going against the detrimental stereotypes that so often infiltrate mainstream cinema. Now, 14 years on, the sequel The Best Man Holiday remains faithful to this positive representation, and with powerful films such as 12 Years a Slave and The Butler causing quite a stir at present, it’s a welcomed antidote to the aforementioned titles, to see successful black protagonists, as bestselling authors, football players and award winning producers.

Reuniting the fine ensemble cast from the first picture, these old college friends decide to get together to celebrate Christmas, in spite of the existing rivalries between them. Most damaged of all is the friendship between author Harper (Taye Diggs) and soon to be retired professional footballer Lance (Morris Chestnut), but the former has a plan up his sleeve to convince his old companion to let him write his biography. Meanwhile Harper’s pregnant wife Robyn (Sanaa Lathan) still holds some disdain for producer Jordan (Nia Long), while Lance’s wife Mia (Monica Calhoun) sits on a secret that could ruin the holiday for them all if she lets slip. With other guests including Quentin (Terrence Howard), Shelby (Melissa De Sousa), Candace (Regina Hall) and Julian (Harold Perrineau) and a plethora of kids running riot, this could be quite the Christmas to remember.

Across the board the performances are very strong, with Calhoun standing out with a hugely empathetic showing. To fit in with the natural progression of the characters, there’s a maturity amongst this cast, and though at times the conversation can grow to be somewhat puerile, the characters maintain a credibility throughout, allowing them the licence to be so crass at points. Meanwhile the emotional sub-plot involving Mia is handled well, and is genuinely upsetting at times. Lee does a fine job in effortlessly moving between comedy and drama, treading that line delicately. That isn’t to say the film isn’t overtly melodramatic though, and way over the top. It’s why Howard’s Quentin is such a pivotal role in this title, detaching himself from the soap-opera like aspects, even telling his friends off at one stage for being too melodramatic – a comment which provokes something of an ironic laughter amongst the audience.

To counteract the touching sequences, a cheesy soundtrack cheapens this title’s emotional gravitas. Every now and again when the tears are on the verge of flowing, a guitar rift that sounds like it’s come straight out of a porno kicks in. The Best Man Holiday is terribly unsubtle throughout, leaving so little to the imagination. It’s exceedingly predictable too, yet in fairness, Lee does embrace this approach, playing up the farcical nature of the film. You can spot a disaster coming a mile off, though you warmly anticipate such scenes, even if a rolling of the eyes is necessary. Talking of rolling your eyes, this film – which for some reason is over two hours long – has a completely superfluous final quarter of an hour, that could be cut out entirely. Growing increasingly nonsensical, there’s an entire American Football element added for no reason, symbolic of a film that perhaps tries to squeeze too much in to an already jam-packed narrative.

At least Lee dispenses of the lone, white character, who is on the receiving end of a handful of relatively uncomfortable race jokes, and the film improves when it focuses on themes such as family and friendship and leaves stereotypes behind. That is where both this sequel and the original excel, after all.