Director Malcolm D. Lee’s sequel to the 1999 “The Best Man” unites the terrific, well-seasoned cast in the first “happy holiday” film of 2013; hopefully , a positive forecast for a festive, fun commencement to a year in need of a jovial jolt.
After years of separation “Mia” (sensitive, poignant performance by Monica Calhoun) invites college friends, whose lives and careers have resulted in huge chasms of disconnectedness, to her baronial home, which she shares with her iconic football player husband (running back for the New York Giants), “Lance” and their four children.
“Lance Sullivan”, (subtly and intelligently depicted by Morris Chestnut) is retiring from the NFL; his mantra, existence is defined by “faith, family and football”; the reunion brings his estranged best friend, “Harper” (wonderful, heartfelt depiction by Taye Diggs) a novelist, suffering from stultifying “writer’s block”, his pregnant wife “Robyn” (Sanaa Latham); their electrically -charged, tendentious relationship hints of problematic, unresolved issues; the film gingerly tiptoes and eventually explodes with the answers.
Nia Long as “Jordan” a consummate professional and Terrance Howard as “Quentin” bring levity, lightheartedness, substance to their roles; Howard, in particular, is hilarious, genial and “Falstaffian” in stealing and sealing his every scene. Solid portrayals by Harold Perrineau and Regina Hall as “Julian and Candace” (she with a checkered past) running their own progressive school; Melissa de Sousa captures the sultry, slutty “Shelby” who knows them all too well; Eddie Cibrian simmers as dashing, dimpled “vanilla” “Brian”, Jordan’s wooer.
At times tearful, blessings are never guaranteed; suffering, brushes all; their angst, insecurities, mistakes bleed into each other; altered, they face with graced honesty their flaws, roadblocks; drudgingly edge forward. A myriad of schmaltz, pulsating predictability, lend pulchritude, harmony, and satisfaction to a delightful film.
THREE & 1/2 STARS!!!