When the nine old friends of “The Best Man’s Holiday” get together for Christmas it’s like a cross between a soap opera and a reality show. Imagine “As the World Turns” as told by Teresa Giudice and Flavor Flav.
In this sorta sequel to 1999’s “The Best Man,” The Sullivans, NFL legend Lance (Morris Chestnut) and wife Mia (Monica Calhoun), plan on a happy Christmas holiday when they invite their closest friends to spend the Christmas holidays at their palatial home.
Here’s a scorecard of the attendees: Former best selling author Harper (Taye Diggs), his pregnant chef wife Robin (Sanaa Lathan), network head (and Harper’s former flame) Jordan (Nia Long), school dean Julian Murch (Harold Perrineau) and his ex-stripper wife Candace (Regina Hall), heavy-lidded party boy Quentin (Terrence Howard) and Shelby (Melissa De Sousa), a reality TV star.
Instead of eggnog and Yuletide carols around the hearth, however, old rivalries rear their ugly heads before a tragedy reminds everyone what friendship is all about.
“The Best Man’s Holiday” is one long cliché. The script telegraphs every plot twist and turn with the subtlety of a kick to the shins and never misses an opportunity to overplay a big melodramatic moment or perform an illegal tonal u-turn mid-scene.
And yet it is a crowd pleaser.
Sometimes clichés are clichés because they’re true and resonate with people, and I guess that is one of the strengths of “The Best Man’s Holiday.” You’ll see everything coming a mile away, you’ll feel manipulated but you’ll also laugh and maybe even shed a tear.
It’s a film built for audiences who enjoy the vulgar rowdiness of reality TV and the comforting clichés of soap opera storytelling.
Is it a good film? Not really, but the better-looking-than-average ensemble cast brings with them loads of charm and the chemistry they share actually puts you onside with the characters despite the paint-by-numbers script.
They’re all engaging performers but Howard stands out in one of his rare forays into comedy.
“The Best Man’s Holiday” isn’t “Best Of” list material but despite being about half-an-hour too long is engaging holiday fare.
The Return of the Secaucus Seven sees a group of college friends come together 10 years after they were arrested on the way to a 1970 peace protest in Washington D.C.
In the 1979 film they reminisce about the good old days, flirt and establish the basic theme of all reunion movies: “What’s a little reunion without a little drama?”
This weekend Terrence Howard, Sanaa Lathan, Taye Diggs and Morris Chestnut are part of a core group of college friends who put that theory to the test in The Best Man Holiday. As IMDB says, expect “long-forgotten rivalries and romances to be ignited.”
The idea of seeing old friends and frenemies after a long break offers loads of opportunities for drama and comedy.
Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion played their high school 10th anniversary get together for laughs. The pair of friends big up their post Grade 12 adventures in an effort to intimidate their old friends.
“Well, I thought the whole point of going to the reunion was to impress people,” says Michele (Lisa Kudrow). “I mean, how am I gonna impress anybody by selling ban-lon smocks at Bargain Mart.”
National Lampoon’s Class Reunion takes a different comedic approach to the subject.
Mixing murder with nostalgia, it’s the story of Walter Baylor (Blackie Dammett, father of the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ singer Anthony Kiedis), an unhinged nerd seeking revenge during his 10th high school reunion as payback for a mean prank played on him during senior year.
“One more move and she gets a hole where she doesn’t need one,” says Walter.
Grosse Pointe Blank takes a more wistful approach to post school socials. John Cusack plays a mysterious graduate who has a life changing epiphany 10 years after graduation.
“You know,” he says, “when you started getting invited to your 10-year high school reunion, time is catching up.”
Complicating matters is his job. He’s a hit man.
“What am I gonna say? ‘I killed the president of Paraguay with a fork. How’ve you been?’”
He’s hired to bump off the father of his high school girlfriend for whom he still has feelings.
More somber is Young Adult, a Charlize Theron dramedy about Mavis Grey (Theron), a ghostwriter of novels for teens who accepts an invite for a baby shower from her high school ex-boyfriend, hoping that he will fall back in love with her during their reunion.
“Sometimes in order to heal,” Charlize Theron says, “A few people have to get hurt.”