Ladies and gentlemen, the cast of The Best Man Holiday is back!
Tonight at an advance screening at Scotia Theatre (downtown Montreal), I was taken back to some time in 2002 in the middle of the theatre. I remember watching this on my aunt's floor after one of her huge movie hauls and this was one of my favourites in the bunch. So glad to see the group back on the screen! A bit "strange" to see the mixed race audience since it is pretty much a "Black" movie (sans Tyler Perry-isms), but the movie does work as a stand alone as well if you haven't seen the first in the series. In case you were wondering about the movie, I won't spoil it for you. However, I would encourage you to see it, even if you do read my little spoiler review thing below.
I can't remember the last time I saw a Black movie carried out so well. Honestly, my hat is off to you Malcom D. Lee. The gang is back and established, everyone has moved up in the world and is doing their own thing (even if it's being ratchet on TV like Shelby). While everyone is some sort of top notch something or the other, not everyone (or their money) is perfect. The Sullivans got a big problem, the Stewarts are going broke with a baby on the way (which was not conceived "naturally" or easily", and well Harper and Lance still are lowkey mad at each other. The Murchs start their own charter (?) school but run into financial problems when Candy's past comes into question. Shelby has become one of the cattiest "Housewives of Westchester" much to her slightly overweight daughter's dismay. Quentin is hanging around being an hoe and doesn’t get much of a story, he’s mostly only comedic relief. Jordan has her sort of stereotypical problem of being a Black woman who's pushed much aside to be top dog in her company, and now finds herself at a crossroad with love.
Let's start with Jordan shall we? At like...maybe the first quarter of the movie, Jordan's new love interest Brian (tall, white, and handsome from Third Watch - Eddie Cibrian) says something to the effect of "it's just that...sometimes you act like you don't need me" and Jordan spits out like it's rapid fire "I don't." She didn’t even hesitate. Crazy problematic right? From the beginning, Jordan has always been this driven, headstrong, take no prisoners type of woman, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. Jordan builds herself on being totally self-sufficient (even mentioning later in the movie that she’s so busy that she hasn’t even had the time to catch up with her closest friends) to the point where, even though she’s in a functioning relationship, it has still reached a standstill. Brian is not someone she leans on until the very end, and it’s only because this is a movie that he comes back around to comfort her, honestly. Throughout the entire movie, the idea of community and leaning on your partner/friends repeats itself.
Harper (Stewarts) is having a hard time with his next book, especially since the last one was a failure. Only Robin (his wife) knows what’s up with Harper’s book, and even then she’s still left in the dark to the financial strain that it’s leaving on the family. The other thing they refuse to talk about until they’ve fought about it is their first miscarriage. With Robin having to put her successful career on hold and Harper’s writing taking a break, the loss and financial toll of fertilization treatments just about breaks them. Robin keeps a brave face and refuses to have Harper tell her what to do, and Harper is "overly" concerned with his wife’s stress level (which stresses her out) and has no idea how to even approach the subject. Finally at the Sullivans' house they start fighting about it, only to realize just how much they’ve hurt each other by not being completely honest about their feelings. See, there it is. Vocalization people, that’s what this movie is about too.
The Murchs on the other hand are an interesting story. Julian, completely invested in his school and his daughters met Candy, his now wife and the mother of said children, at a strip joint. Somehow, one of the investors in his school gets his hands on a YouTube video of Candy dancing with a few drunk frat boys and then going into a room with one of them. Then she accepts some money. For a good bit of the movie, say like half, it’s definitely the inside joke of the growing group of people who know about the video, while Julian drives himself crazy. instead of simply asking Candy about it, he says something extra salty about "is that what you used to say to your customers?" and actually seems surprised when she almost kills him. Rightly, she grabs the girls and speeds off (after getting into a fight with an instigating Shelby and putting a much deserved whopping on her), only to reappear towards the end. And here’s the part I really like. When they do talk about it, Candy is still very obviously defensive and sensitive about the subject. But what she tells him isn’t some Tyler Perry-esque horror story. Straight up, she tells him it was a one time thing she did when she was "young and dumb" and really needed the money. That’s it, that’s all. No horrible rape story. No patronizing about what and why she did what she did. No questions, nothing. I definitely want to tip my hat to Lee, because that scene there definitely could have been played to the stereotype.
Quentin and Shelby are a mess. Shelby, who is the definition of attention seeking, pays no attention to her daughter (or her emotional eating!) and instead spends most of the vacation stirring up trouble. Only until the end when she finds out what’s really going on with Mia does she feel remorseful, but by then she’s already showed out and made herself look like an idiot. Quentin is just…girl. I’m surprised he’s not the one they discovered has every STI known to man. He’s more like comedic relief, but it really is interesting to watch him send nudes and then start praying when it starts thundering outside.
Out of everyone, the Sullivans have the biggest problem. Mia is dying of cancer, leaving behind her four (?) children and her husband, Lance, still hasn’t forgiven Harper (or Mia for that matter) over what happened years ago. Throughout maybe eighty percent of the movie, Mia has the strong Black woman image. It’s obvious something is wrong by how reserved and thin she is, but the bomb isn’t dropped until later on in the movie. The glue holding the family, Mia is stuck keeping strong for her children and husband, as she is the only thing linking them together because he is away so much. However, her strength, which probably never was fortified, is equated to silence. Dealing with cancer for years through countless treatments, Mia breaks and tells them of her diagnosis when they’ve only all gathered at her house by sheer chance. All those years, all those invitations, and Mia never felt comfortable enough to tell them. Her friends also weren’t always available, even to just go away for the weekend. Lance faces the same fate, of being Mia’s last defines and blocking everyone out. Still on the rocks with Harper about the past, he can’t even find it within himself to lean on Harper for support until Mia makes it her last request. Sure, Lance is admirable by keeping his support within his wife and his faith in God, but his hesitation to include his friends in that support until the very end.
Basically, this movie makes sense, especially around the holiday times. Check for your friends and keep up with your family. You have no idea what’s going on in each other’s lives and how much of a support you can be in some instances. The whole solo-solo attitude eats away at most of the group, and they find it impossible to lean on each other until they’re absolutely forced to. This movie has definitely been a warning.
Labels: commentary, movies, the best man holiday