'The Best Man Holiday' a touching, hilarious sequel

If you watch “The Best Man Holiday,” be prepared to laugh and shed some tears. The movie, directed by Malcolm D. Lee, picks up nearly 15 years later after the original “Best Man” film in 1999.

The beginning of the film gives you a look into the lives of the characters and how they’ve changed over the past 14 years. Harper Stewart, played by Taye Diggs, is a writer and professor at New York University and is now married to his longtime girlfriend Robin (Sanaa Lathan), who he proposed to in the original movie.

The two are expecting their first child together but are also experiencing financial issues due to the failure of Harper’s book.

Lance Sullivan, played by Morris Chestnut, is still continuing his estranged friendship with Harper due to a book published revealing an indiscretion between Harper and Lance’s wife Mia (Monica Calhoun). Lance now has a successful career playing for the New York Giants and has a beautiful family. Murch (Harold Perrieanu) has married Candace (Regina Hall), a former stripper who he connected with and now runs a private school for at risk kids. Her unflattering past throws a monkey wrench in an opportunity for the school and soon causes conflict during the visit.

Jordan (Nia Long) is now a successful TV executive and has a new boyfriend named Brian (Eddie Cibrain). The hilarious Quentin (Terrance Howard) and Shelby (Melissa DeSousa) show up with their crazy antics as well.

The movie starts with Mia writing a letter requesting Harper and his pregnant wife Robin’s presence at her Christmas weekend get together. Harper visits his agent, Stan, only to find out that his most recent book didn’t sell too well. His agent urges him to write a book like the one that he did 14 years earlier titled “Unfinished Business.” Stan then pitches the idea of writing Lance’s autobiography, seeing the Christmas gathering as the perfect opportunity for him to pitch the idea. He runs into many complications trying to rebuild the tarnished friendship between himself and Lance, including having to deal with his pregnant jealous wife.

The movie is filled with make-ups, break ups and laughter. It is a strong follow-up to the original “Best Man.” A highlight of the movie consists of the men of the film performing “Can You Stand The Rain” by New Edition to the women, with Shelby saying, “I can’t stand it” as she tosses her underwear to Murch, much to his wife’s annoyance.

The movie becomes more sentimental and emotionally driven based off Mia’s revelation as to why after 14 years she decides to get the gang all together again. Critic Odie Henderson from RogerEbert.com felt that the director gave a good balance of laughs and emotion throughout the film.

“Lee raises the stakes on characters that fans have cradled to their bosoms, adding a surprising amount of tragedy,” Henderson said. “He overdoes it, but ‘The Best Man Holiday’ could still teach Tyler Perry lessons on how to move from overwhelming sadness to broad comedy.”

“The Best Man Holiday” DVD is set to be released on Feb. 11, 2014.

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