In 1999, Malcolm D. Lee wrote and directed a true to life engaging yarn of career-oriented childhood friends who reunite for a wedding. A glossy ensemble starring Taye Diggs, Nia Long, Morris Chestnut, Monica Calhoun, Harold Perrineau and Terrence Howard, “The Best Man” tackled issues of fidelity and marriage and topped the box office on its opening weekend. A comedy revolving around an approaching wedding, the movie was a charmer about friendship and sex-related secrets within a group of former college buddies. Taye Diggs played Harper, a soon-to-be-published author whose new novel contained a barely-disguised passage about a clandestine liaison between himself and a character in his story.
Morris Chestnut – courtesy of Universal Pictures
The character rather closely resembled the bride. Nia Long as Jordan was the career-driven bride’s maid and former flame of Harpers while Morris Chestnut player Lance, the highly religious groom and philandering college football hero who was committed to marrying Mia (Monica Calhoun). Terence Howard was a guitar-playing womanizer named Quentin, while Harold Perrineau and Melissa De Sousa rounded off the eclectic cast as mismatched lovers. As moviegoers grew attached to the movie during its theatrical run and subsequent life in home entertainment, Lee realized just how identifiable and beloved the characters he dreamt up were becoming and although he considered doing a sequel throughout the years, he felt it wasn’t the right time — until now.
Regina Hall and Sanaa Lathan – courtesy of Universal Pictures
“It was my first movie and I didn’t want to get pigeonholed as a director and just do the same thing, but in late 2005, I started peculating the idea and I would see the cast over the years. It got to a point where I thought; let me get the cast together and let’s see what can happen.” Gathering the cast at a local Los Angeles eatery, he pitched the idea of a sequel which has the friends reuniting for Christmas.
“I called everybody up in late 2011 and said, ‘I’ve got an idea for a sequel to The Best Man,” he recollects. “I told them, ‘If you like it, great, and if you don’t, then at least we will have seen each other and caught up.’ So we all got together, and they were all excited about the idea.”
A funny ensemble with superb performances and characters so charismatic and infectious, “The Best Man Holiday” brings the characters back together 15 years later and for Lee, it was always about telling audiences a new story that was more sophisticated. “They have all had busy lives and have gone on to accomplish things. They have all had struggles, but the characters that people loved are as powerful, funny, emotional and opinionated as everybody remembers them.” With opening credits that serve as a reminder of each character’s journey, ‘The Best Man Holiday” is entertaining and worth watching for the outstanding ensemble acting and the intelligent, handling of love, marriage and friendships.
Nia Long, Monica Calhoun and Melissa De Sousa – courtesy of Universal Pictures
As they were in “The Best Man,” friendships are once again tested in this sequel when the truth is revealed about someone’s past, Harper’s career difficulties and the real reason that Mia invited everyone to her home for Christmas, and drama and comedy arrive once again in abundance among the friends.
Harold Perrineau, Taye Diggs and Terrence Howard – courtesy of Universal Pictures
“Harper had learnt some things when we left off,” says Lee. “He was on his ascension, so I thought it would be great if he had a couple of failed things. Lance has this seemingly charmed life and has a great football career, a nice house a supportive wife and four beautiful children, but in this sequel something will test his fate more so than the other movie. With the other characters, I just wanted to give them obstacles and conflicts they have to get around.”
L-R; Morris Chestnut, Taye Diggs, Harold Perrineau and Terrence Howard – photo courtesy of Universal Pictures
Fans of the first are in for a treat with this sequel. Harper and his wife Robyn (Sanaa Lathan) are finally expecting their first child, after a long series of fertility treatments and heartbreaks, Jordan (Nia Long) is now the director of programming at MSNBC and has fallen in love with Brian (Eddie Cibrian), who just happens to be white. Shelby (Melissa De Sousa) has reinvented herself as a successful businesswoman in a popular housewives television franchise and juggles motherhood and a lucrative career, while Murch (Harold Perrineau) is now happily married to Candace (Regina Hall), and together they are raising two daughters.
Director Malcolm D Lee – photo courtesy of Universal Pictures
Since “The Best Man’s” release in 1999, Lee has gone on to direct several projects including “Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins,” “Soul Men,” “Scary Movie 5,” and the cult classic “Undercover Brother,” but he will always be known for the groundbreaking movie that ushered in a new era of comedy and launched the careers of its cast.
Also starring Anthony Hamilton and Marsha Ambrosius who perform a musical ensemble, “The Best Man Holiday” is a long-awaited sequel. “The time was right. We knew there was a huge fan base for this movie and people who wanted to see these characters again,” says Lee, “so we felt that we should just give the people what they want.”
“The Best Man Holiday” releases in theaters November 15.
Samantha Ofole-Prince is a journalist and movie critic who covers industry-specific news that includes television and film. She serves as the Entertainment Editor for Trendy Africa.