The original Best Man was released in 1999, and featured several up and coming young stars (at the time). Harper, the “best man” in the title, was about to release his autobiographical novel as he was arriving to be the best man at his friend Lance’s (a pro football player) wedding. The movie combined many storylines into one weekend, as Jordan got an advance copy of the book, and knew that Harper once slept with Lance’s fiancé Mia when she was looking for revenge for Lance’s affairs. That happened years ago, and Harper is hoping to make it through the wedding, fending off advances from Jordan while waiting for his girlfriend Robyn to arrive. Mia’s crazy friend Shelby shows up to throw things off, and Quentin and Julian, the other groomsmen, have their own issues, including Julian falling for Candace, a stripper. Writer director Malcolm D. Lee actually did an incredible job putting all these storylines into one complete movie that was alternatingly fun and painful. At the core was the friendship of the guys, and working through their issues to stand by each other.
The film was a success, and many of the stars when on to do some really great things. That allowed Malcolm D. Lee to bring them all back together – 14 years later – for a Christmas party.
Lance is thinking of retirement from the NFL, and he and Mia ask all their friends to come in for the holidays. She does have an ulterior motive, but that is played out beautifully. Lance still hasn’t quite forgiven Harper. Harper and Robyn are expecting, after trying unsuccessfully several times. Harper’s last book hasn’t sold and they are hurting financially because of the fertility treatments. Julian and Candace are married with two daughters and running a private school together when Julian discovers an old YouTube video of Candace. Shelby is a ‘star’ on the Real Housewives of Westchester, and every bit the insane diva. Jordan is now a big time publisher and dating a handsome man with dimples, but not really committing. And Quentin, well, he’s still crazy.
The movie works, and it works well. There are several reasons. One of them is the ability of Malcolm D. Lee to tell several interesting stories on top of one another. And yes, while those stories are a little soap-opera-y, they are really entertaining. As Quentin says at one point, “That was some melodramatic shit.” He also wrote Welcome Home Roscoe Jenkins, which is actually much better than you think it is. So check that out if you haven’t seen it. He has also directed Roll Bounce, which again had the alternating hilarious and sad moments, and Undercover Brother, one of my favorite movies – which really needs a sequel. Hey, if it took him 14 years to sequelize the Best Man, maybe there’s hope for Undercover Brother?
The chemistry between these stars is another reason the movie is successful. They have known each other for the 14 years, and that shows on screen. Honestly, the scene where the guys perform for the women is fantastic.
- Taye Diggs plays Harper with a quiet desperation. He really just wants to take care of Robyn, and make sure that his friends are happy, but unfortunately, he takes a round-a-bout way to get there. He’s stunning, and probably the best actor in the bunch, and he is given plenty to do in this movie.
- Sanaa Lathan plays Robyn, and spends most of this movie really pregnant – which made me want this to turn into Blade (she played his mother). She also does a good job in the movie, struggling to stay positive when Harper gets negative, and trying to keep everything moving in the right direction.
- Morris Chestnut plays Lance, and while the logos for the team he plays for were fake (if the NFL won’t give you licensing permission, why use the NY Giants name? Why not use a fake name?), his body is real. There were not nearly enough shirtless scenes for him. He again plays Lance as really angry, mainly with Harper. He is tolerating having everyone over to his house because Mia wants it.
- Monica Calhoun plays Mia with a simple understated grace and elegance. She really has the most to do in this movie and is excellent. Her joy at bringing all of her friends together for the holidays is infectious!
- Harold Perrineau plays Julian, who basically gets to just be shocked at his stripper wife’s past. He knew she was a stripper – why is he that shocked? Well, he’s great, and does get some fun moments.
- Regina Hall plays Candace, and while she’s wonderful in a few of those Scary Movies, she’s really good in this too. She does a good job of keeping her past under wraps, until it comes to light, and then does a good job defending it and moving on.
- Nia Long plays Jordan as a complete Alpha female who needs nothing and no one to help her with her life. She again does a good job playing the transition of Jordan from uptight and efficient to a more understanding and aware friend.
- Eddie Cibrian and his dimples play Brian, who Jordan is dating, but not really committing to. He doesn’t get much to do, except for one scene with the guys, and a few others with Jordan.
- Terrence Howard plays Quentin, and he is the ambling stoner of the group. He’s a very successful promoter, so he has a lot of money. He is basically the comedy relief in this movie, and does a good job at that.
- Melissa De Sousa plays Shelby and she is out-of-control hilarious, until the one scene where she is out-of-control in front of her daughter, and then it’s a little heartbreaking. She plays it just right.
The cast is all great, and they do a great job with the storylines they are given. Yes, there are a lot, and yes, it’s a little melodramatic, but truthfully, it’s really well done. It alternates between hilarious and touching in a really well-crafted way. It does earn the R, mainly with language and some sex. Also, in its first weekend of release, it gained back double the entire budget. So that means that the little bit at the end that set up a sequel will definitely give us a third one. Hopefully quicker than 14 years.
8 out of 10 – really entertaining, really fun, really touching, and really well done. Gained points for a shirtless Morris Chestnut (yes, I am more on board with his rumored casting as T’Challa now), but on the other hand, lost points for a shirtless Terrence Howard, yikes. Gained points for the jogging scene, watching Taye Diggs pretend to be out of shape. Simultaneously gained and lost points for all the melodrama – but hey, that’s what we want!
Bonus Video 1 – Taye on the Daly Show.
Bonus Video 2 – Undercover Brother – seriously, if you haven’t seen this, rent it now.
Bonus Video 3 – Cast interviews.