Saturday, February 17, 2018

Review: 'Best Man Holiday' is fun, as long as your brain is turned off

The Best Man Holiday is surprisingly entertaining for viewers who can turn their brains off and simply enjoy the film as mindless comedy.

Fifteen years after they last saw each other, college friends reunite to celebrate Christmas together. Lance (Morris Chestnut) has become a successful professional football player, while Harper (Taye Diggs) struggles to revive his career as an author. Desperate to pen another bestseller, Harper secretly begins working on a book about Lance's career, but he grows nostalgic and focuses less on work when he sees his old friends Quentin (Terrence Howard) and Julian (Harold Perrineau) again.

The main issue with this sequel to 1999's The Best Man is its utter lack of originality. It is an extremely simple drama to the extent that there is virtually no plot, while the comedic moments bring the house down. The more serious parts are quite boring because the drama is forced. In a movie with such a weak story, more comedy and less drama is usually better because the laughs can cover up the poor writing. Instead, writer-director Malcolm D. Lee dwells on the soap opera drama and leaves the viewer wanting more of the guilty pleasure that is the raunchy comedy.

The pacing never feels too slow, but the film is still way longer than it needs to be. The story is not interesting or complex enough to warrant a two-hour runtime, and it seems like it should already be over at a few different points near the end.

While the writing is a weakness, the acting breathes life into the film. Fans of the first installment will be pleased to see the original actors reprising their roles. Terrence Howard is a key component to the comedy of the film as Quentin, sarcastic and unfiltered even in some of the more serious moments. Though he has less time on screen than some of the other actors, Howard steals the show. Between this film and Prisoners, he has been able to showcase his versatility as an actor this year.

Lee does an adequate job as director. The viewer can tell he has worked with all these actors before because he gets decent performances out of them to produce a fantastic chemistry on the screen. The Christmas music selected for the film soothes the viewer and kicks off the holiday season with cheer. Meanwhile, stylistic choices such as opening with an uncreative postcard sequence that recaps the events of the first film fall flat.

The Best Man Holiday is not a romantic comedy so much as it is a holiday reunion comedy about family and friendship. It is also a bizarrely pointless sequel, especially 14 years after the original film. Frighteningly, the ending hints at a third installment, but perhaps it is time for Lee to try moving on to bigger and better projects.

Mark Mukherjee is a senior at King High.

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