The Only Thing Missing From ‘The Best Man Holiday’ Was Madea.

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Taye Diggs’ character is married to Sanaa Lathan and he somehow still finds shit to complain about.

Over at The Awl, Rahawa Haile considers The Best Man Holiday:

Unfortunately, the majority of the film’s comedy lies in its first half. People eat, drink, and are caught interacting one-on-one in easily misread moment after easily misread moment. The film is happy until it is sad. Very, very sad. Everyone cries. The characters cry. The audience cries. I cried watching Monica Calhoun lose herself in a rendition of “O Holy Night,” with which my theater audience of hundreds sang along on opening day. There are plot twists and complications and adversity, throughout which the thrust of the remains firm: family can cure all.

That’s not all. Everyone has a career but there’s really no interest in making the particulars of their careers plausible or sensible — an almost laughably old star NFL running back and a writer who somehow thinks his flailing career will be salvaged by penning a boring biography about said old-ass running back.  One character’s death is telegraphed from the moment they step onscreen. Nia Long’s Jordan, a hard-charging, successful career woman, has to learn that she “needs” the new man in her life. A devoted wife and and a trampy ex-girlfriend get into a reality-show-style brawl in front of the big Christmas tree. The movie has at least three different climaxes: The Big Game; The Funeral; The Baby. One character tells another that he should ask God for guidance. So yeah. You’d be excused for mistaking this film for  Tyler Perry’s The Best Man Holiday.1

The Best Man Holiday

Harold Perrineau, Taye Diggs and Terrence Howard go shopping to prepare a delicious dinner of bread and vegetable shoots.

Here’s Haile again:

In some ways, it is an accomplishment for Lee that [Morris Chestnut’s character’s] invincibility becomes insufferable only within the last 20 minutes of the film, where Chestnut miraculously delivers a baby. A breech baby. In an SUV. With his bare hands. In a snowstorm. In traffic. On the day of a funeral. In space. Fighting dinosaurs. Making waffles. For God.

One of the most fascinating consequences of Tyler Perry’s dominance of the black movie space has been the way he conducts negative heat away from other mainstream black films. It’s like everyone  is so apoplectic and worn out from criticizing Perry’s work that they don’t have sufficient energy left to side-eye movies that have a lot of the same ostensible shortcomings. My hunch is that a lot of people who saw and loved Holiday also deeply dislike Tyler Perry flicks, even  as his so many of his fingerprints — the melodrama, the nakedly expository dialogue, the wild tonal shifts, the moralizing — are all over it.

1Which, when you think about it, is a title only slightly more clunky than The Best Man Holiday.

 

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Gene "G.D." Demby is the founder and editor of PostBourgie. In his day job, he blogs about race and ethnicity for National Public Radio. He is a native of South Philly and reads and writes and runs and rants. You can follow him on Twitter or subscribe to him on Facebook.

15 comments to The Only Thing Missing From ‘The Best Man Holiday’ Was Madea.

  • This is why I love postbourgie. I was the lone person to let out an enthusiastic, “BOOYOW”, when Nia Long’s character confirmed, with her love interest, that she didn’t need him. And, if the argument is that she could have been more diplomatic about it, I’ll concede (a little bit), but I was soooo disappointed in the “lesson” she eventually learned.

    Also, I was annoyed that Monica Calhoun was basically the walking (barely talking) Jesus piece of the movie. – “She brings out the best in all of us”? Just, not when she’s sleeping with her boyfriends best friend, huh? Okay. – I didn’t figure out she was dying before they started doing the whole “there’s something wrong with Mia” bit, and then every time she was on scene it just felt awkward. Jesus piece being overcome with the *spirit* during “O Holy Night”? Yeah, that’s heavy-handed. Jesus can’t catch the Holy Ghost. I want answers!

    I digress. Anyhoo.

    I enjoyed it overall because it managed to make people who annoy me (Terrence Howard and Taye Diggs) likable. But, I definitely cringed at those overly religious moments (why does EVERY Black movie have to include Jesus?). I don’t think it’s as preachy as Tyler Perry’s films (the jokes are definitely funnier than TP’s), and it doesn’t feel like the director hates upwardly mobile Black people the way TP does. But, they are definitely more similarities than there are differences.

  • Im not sure why one would go see a sequel expecting a major shift in tone and an abundance of substance that didn’t exist in the original. The Best Man was a typical late-90s black comedy fueled by beautiful people. I watched BMH expecting more of the same. The people were somehow more beautiful 14 years later, and there were sexy men New Edition lip-syncing.

    I dont think every black movie has to be ground breaking. Sometimes I just want to sit in a dark room with strangers, eat popcorn, chuckle as the tropes present themselves, and cry when prompted. Any movie with the word “Holiday” in it or a heavy association with a holiday will be heavy on the melodrama and shmaltz (hello, “This Christmas,” “New Year’s Eve” and “Valentine’s Day”).

    It’s strange for a grown-ass woman to contend that she doesn’t need a man that she claims to love. Same for a grown-ass man, or two very close friends. Humans need other humans, and in the context of that particular scene it was a callous thing for her to say. He wasn’t implying she needed him to pay her bills or even feel whole as a person, he just wanted her to acknowledge that he was a worthwhile part of her life.

    That being said, the Morris-Chestnut-as-Superman, delivering breeched babies scene was ridiculous. As was the fight. But to associate the movie’s shorrcomings with Tyler Perry is too convenient. The tradition for this sort of movie is older, and not limited to black film.

    • Jesus. All the strawmen in this comment.

      Im not sure why one would go see a sequel expecting a major shift in tone and an abundance of substance that didn’t exist in the original.

      Never said this, tho.

      I dont think every black movie has to be ground breaking.

      Could you please point out where I suggested otherwise? I didn’t make that argument. (I would never make that argument.)

      Sometimes I just want to sit in a dark room with strangers, eat popcorn, chuckle as the tropes present themselves, and cry when prompted.

      I went with my friends all my friends, laughed, sang along to “Can You Stand The Rain,” rolled my eyes, and enjoyed the whole experience.

      It’s strange for a grown-ass woman to contend that she doesn’t need a man that she claims to love. Same for a grown-ass man, or two very close friends. Humans need other humans, and in the context of that particular scene it was a callous thing for her to say.

      Now we’re getting somewhere. Like More & Again, I was glad when #WhiteBoo said “I feel like you don’t need me” and Nia Long’s character said “I don’t.” Even if he wasn’t saying he just wanted her to affirm his importance in her life, he made that request using the same essentialist, women-need-to-need-men language that Steve Harvey might use. You can argue that he ain’t want her to “need her, need her,” but that’s not what he said.

      (Sidebar: I was having a conversation earlier with a friend who said that we tend to flatten masculinity in relationships into its most utilitarian components — I can fix your car or I can pay your bills or I can provide — which in turn de-emphasizes emotional intelligence/connection/availability.)

      But to associate the movie’s shorrcomings with Tyler Perry is too convenient.

      See…I don’t even know that I made the argument that these were shortcomings. My argument is that these same plot elements would be derided in an identical movie with TP’s branding on it, but here are seen as just fun and schmaltzy. I think the point is that Tyler Perry films are either not as egregious as people suggest or that other movies that get held up as counterweights to TP-ass movies traffic in the same tropes.

    • “Humans need other humans, and in the context of that particular scene it was a callous thing for her to say.”

      As far as humans needing other humans, that’s debatable. Speaking solely for myself, the only things I need are food, clothing, shelter (and, in the United States, the currency that guarantees I can acquire all three at the same time). Everything else is a want. If I were Jordan I probably would have said, “I don’t need you, but I love you and don’t even want to imagine trying to live without you”. But, there’s nothing inherently wrong with the fact that she doesn’t need him to survive and thrive.

      The bigger issue is that Black films are relentless in their dragging of the “independent Black woman” character. Terrence Howard’s character gets a pat on the back for being the consummate bachelor. His moment of thinking he’s in love? Fleeting. The third installment of this franchise will probably see him fretting over whether he even really wants to do this whole *marriage* thing (after a series of “Hangover”-style shenanigans). Nia’s character, in contrast, knows she’s in love, but that’s not enough because “independent women” always have to be reminded of their place, in Black films.

      Every Black movie doesn’t have to be groundbreaking, but I haven’t really seen one (that’s not an indie) even try.

    • caren docos

      Great comment. Its a holiday movie. I got what i expected some cheez, alot of positivity, and beautiful people wearing nice clothes living in an awesome house. I understood the message as well, and people need people for an exchange that is not tangible.

  • 1. To review a movie without at least acknowledging that it’s a sequel and the ways that it is beholden to, or perhaps strays from the tone, etc of the original is misleading. The movie had a shaky foundation storyline-wise, thanks to its predecessor. That bears mentioning. You never said you expected differences, but you also didn’t acknowledge the possibility that people might be giving this movie a “pass” because of said predecessor.

    2. Wasn’t rebutting you, so I’m not sure why you need to counter me at all.

    3. Same as above. Arguments can only be strawmen if they’re actually arguments. You never mentioned the ways you enjoyed the movie, but now I know.

    4. We can beg to differ here. It comes down to the scene itself. Her response was callous, regardless of gender. Had she said the same thing to her homegirl I’d call it callous. Even if she thought it was a typical needy-man question she could have answered it like an adult. She actually pulled away from dude and cringed. If anything I felt like her behavior was a caricature of a strong woman, definitely not worth cheering in a theater. Obviously, the bigger problem is that the moment had to stand in for their entire relationship, because after that he disappeared for most of the film.

    5. “It’s like everyone is so apoplectic and worn out from criticizing Perry’s work that they don’t have sufficient energy left to side-eye movies that have a lot of the same glaring shortcomings.”

    ^Right there you did it.

    People don’t pan all Tyler Perry movies equally. I know lots of folk who claim to abhor him but still ride with the Why Did I Get Married movies. It would be interesting to talk to folk and explore why that is.

    One day I’ll learn how to block quote and make my comments more awesome.

  • While I mostly enjoyed The Best Man Holiday I did find myself saying “come on now…really?” several times out loud in the theater. I just had to remind myself to suspend reality and enjoy the movie just like I might enjoy any other movie about superheroes and alternate universes.

  • alright. let’s talk about Jordan. (i tweeted this earlier so pardon if you’ve seen some of this before already)

    Jordan is coded with certain “masculine” traits- her professional drive, her name, her short hair- and she is cold-bed single. Jordan’s not portrayed as masculine in the dreaded black feminist way (no make-up, natural hair, etc.) but compare her to the other women. Mia- the sweet “virgin;” Shelby- the spoiled brat; Candy- the vivacious stripper. all of them with long hair & male attention. In The Best Man, we see Mia & Shelby connected to 2 of the men. Candy, an object of male desire. Jordan, rejected twice.

    So what happens when Jordan, this career-driven, lonely Strong Black Woman, can’t get the brother she wants? She gets a #WhiteBoo in The Best Man Holiday, but surprise! #WhiteBoo is still a man & still needs to be needed. Lay your burdens down, SBW Jordan, or you’ll die alone!

    i’m going to add that Robin, in the first movie, flaky as hell, right? in between jobs with no firm idea what she wanted to be when she grew up, but she had a man though, didn’t she?

    if i recall correctly, Jordan was the only woman, other than Candy, with a job or career. super masculine, Christian (muscular Christian?!) Lance didn’t want Mia to work. i believe Shelby was getting by on her father’s money. again, Robin was unemployed, but all those women had men. Candy was a stripper, but her heart of gold (because, of course, she was stripping to get through college, not because she *really* wanted to do it) won her man.

    i enjoyed both movies. the first one was an immediate favorite. this one is a little too heavy-handed with the faith stuff. i wish they’d cut the “O, Holy Night” scene and put in whatever lipsync routine the women did. but yes, there are lots of issues beneath the good times in this movie, issues very similar to what TP puts out.

  • I think a lot of people overlooked the film’s schmaltzy parts for nostalgia purposes. You let “old friends” get away with a lot of things.

  • rachel

    Wow maybe I’m out of sync with black america. I liked this movie a lot. I like Tyler Perry movies…I don’t get the critism…mainstream movies always have a ‘safe’ black person in them that I can’t relate to and I rarely go to the movies for that reason. I want to see all facets of blackness represented and am tired of mainstream movies with over the top characters again that don’t represent my culture just the European view of the world if you will. I’m by no means saying that the movie should not be critiqued(sp) but I saw a good movie..

    • You’re certainly allowed to like this movie and Tyler Perry movies!

      I want to see all facets of blackness represented and am tired of mainstream movies with over the top characters…

      Tyler Perry *only* traffics in over-the-top characters, though.

  • Ty Willi

    Are Christmas carols so hard to accept? I mean, it’s a “holiday” movie. It’s really sad to see such a rejection of faith in the comments. The movie wasn’t forcing religion down people’s throats. The O Holy Night scene had purpose and for a moment Monica Calhoun reminded me of Whitney, but I could have just been sensitive at the time. But I just don’t get why be so offended. You knew what your were getting into from the first movie. Lance, though jaded at times, is a man of faith. I don’t know, just don’t get why some of you (commenters) are so offended. Someone’s faith, or the cinematic display of it, shouldn’t be offensive,

  • Rene

    I know that I am late, but I agree 100% with this article. The original film has been one of my favorite movies since I first saw it in the theaters in 1999. I left this film wondering, “Did Tyler Perry secretly co-produce this?” This film was nowhere near intelligent, comical or witty as the first one. The first one was natural, this sequel was forced. I was too upset that I spent much of the last part of the film crying extremely hard. This was a tragedy; so not a romantic comedy. Drama can be contained within a romantic comedy, but what was within this film could only be classified as tragedy. The most redeeming quality about this film for is that I love this cast and seeing them reminds me of those feelings I developed for them in the original. This was such a huge disappointment.

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