I have never seen anyone cry so openly and in such volume as I did when I attended a press screening of The Best Man Holiday earlier this week with my coworker Caity Weaver. (Given our shared love of all things Christmasy, cheesy, and Christmasy cheesy, she was the natural choice to be my +1.) Malcolm D. Lee's follow-up to 1999's The Best Man simply destroyed her. Her outpouring of emotion was a beautiful sight to behold.
A tad sharper than its predecessor, The Best Man Holiday is nonetheless an exercise in boring characters being boring and saying very little of consequence for over two hours. And so, as a format-tailored response, Caity and I decided we'd chat about this movie our method of covering this reunion that nobody asked for (not even the characters, who agree to spend Christmas together in the mansion of Morris Chestnut's pro-footballer character, despite their seething hatred for each other). For something so dull, we had a lot to talk about.
Spoilers abound below, and I'm telling you this because I know you're going to rush out and see The Best Man Holiday and I would hate to ruin your experience. This alert is my way of being the best man that I can be.
Rich: Caity, I know you aren't a man (or at least, if you are, you are an excellent illusionist) but can you tell me what you think the best man holiday is?
Caity: Am I describing the movie or what I thought the movie was before I knew it was a movie when I only knew the title? Or am I describing the best holiday for men? Holiday as in vacation or holiday as in federal holiday?
Rich: Well, the thing is that you can take this title two ways, just as you could the first one. Taye Diggs' character Harper was the best man at his friend's wedding, and arguably the "best" man of the movie. Whereas you could read this as The Best Man: Holiday Edition, or the best man holiday. So let's go with that latter, willfully stupid interpretation.
Caity: Taye Diggs is far from the "best" man, which is a quibble I have with this whole premise.
Rich: Yeah, he sucks. Let's limit ourselves to federal.
Caity: I think the best man holiday is probably Thanksgiving because it is centered around consuming vast quantities of food. And men get to use electric knives.
Rich: And really don't have to lift a damn finger, traditionally.
Caity: Right. What do you think is the best man holiday?
Rich: Well, it depends on what kinda man you are. Given misogynistic inequality, the best man holiday is the best holiday period. But Father's Day is an obvious choice if you are straight, and sometimes if you are gay. I would say if you are gay and without children, it's either Halloween (if you like that sort of thing) or 4th of July. You're more likely to have group sex as a result of your sexy costume or it being the summer when your sexy costume is your body. If you're into group sex. Maybe it gives you performance anxiety. I didn't wear a sexy costume this year. I didn't have group sex.
Speaking of procreation, why do you think this movie was made? The first one did about $35 million against a $9 million budget. That's good but not great. It's been 15 years since. And these characters, frankly, weren't interesting the first time. Actually, the big takeaway from the first movie is that black people can be bland, too. Its worth is its banality.
Caity: I have no idea why this movie was made. I don't think it's so much that people were clamoring for a sequel as that the people behind that first movie were like, "Hey, do you remember that movie?" And some people (black people) said "Yes!" And that was all the motivation they needed.
Rich: My excitement for this movie was oversized. Why was I so excited for this movie? Why did I get married...too?
Caity: I didn't know they were making it until it came out.
Rich: I don't think I did until I saw the Pottery Barn-esque posters. I love that Nia Long is on there by herself (as opposed to everyon eelse who is frolicking with their other half or sex partner) because her man is white. Characters were really scandalized by her interracial relationship. It was like Richard Cohen consulted on the script.
Caity: Well, you and I disagree on this point. I don't think he was left off because he was white. I think it's because he wasn't in the original cast. They're trying to sell this movie as iconic, for whatever reason.
Rich: That poster would fuck people's minds up.
Caity: People would say "Well, I thought this might be a poster for a sequel to The Best Man, but I don't remember that gentleman in the original cast!"
Rich: I am not being racist when I say that a stray white character had the best line in the movie. Taye Diggs' character's book agent telling him that people want a book that is "smart, and not just black-people smart." Very funny and searing critique of fiction aimed at black people. Fiction like this movie. However, I don't think this movie was even "black-people smart."
Caity: It was no kinda people smart.
Rich: So many scenes stretch on so long without a single laugh. Without a single line that you can pull and appreciate.
Caity: My favorite lines were the ones that were clearly written for black people. Just to be like "Black people! We know you're watching this movie! We're black too!" I will admit that I appreciated Terrence Howard complaining about, "I don't know why these white people are paying me to tell them what black people like. I'm light-skinned!"
Rich: That one was so good. I liked when he said, "If they can get the word 'homo' banned, then they should be able to get the word 'nigga' banned." And then someone walks in the room, and he says, "Hey my nigga, what's up?" I like that despite the wholesome, conservative soul of this franchise, everyone talks like truck drivers. Speaking of black audiences, this screening was way less attended than any other screening I've been to this year. I'd say the audience was 80 percent black?
Caity: At least.
Rich: White critics who cried tears of semen over 12 Years a Slave are such fucking hypocrites.
Caity: It's very weird to me that this movie was R-rated. It's weird to have an R-rated Christmas movie.
Rich: Yes it is. They say "motherfucker!"
Caity: All the language and sex was completely gratuitous. You could have cut it out without losing anything.
Rich: It's also weird to fuck—including orally—under sheets. Right? Or is that what straight people do? Is that how you be straight?
Caity: No way, you would get so hot.
Rich: Right? It's hard enough to breathe with a dick in your mouth. Most of the fucking took place during a bedroom-to-bedroom montage to the tune of Nat King Cole's "The Christmas Song." That's...irreverent.
Caity: As you pointed out, there was no real reason for this to be a Christmas movie. It was a movie that happened to take place at Christmastime.
Rich: Christmas provided background wreaths, straightforward covers of soulful holiday classics (like Mary J. Blige singing "This Christmas") and an excuse to get all of these people who hate each other in the same house. The fourth of July, my vote for the actual best man holiday, would have made a lot more sense. One more thing about the sexual content: In the scene that cut back between the women having their pajama night and the men having theirs (gender segregation—another way to be straight?) Nia Long's abomination of a man (the white guy, Eddie Cibrian) is wearing these scrubs and his dick is just massive. Like, the size of a small hot air balloon on screen. His package filled my eyes. And the immediate next scene is the women rhapsodizing "big black dick." You're probably too demure to comment on that, but I thought it was interesting.
Caity: I am too demure to even have noticed that.
Rich: I'm always looking for dick in loose fitting pants. Sweatpants weather is my favorite time of year. It's the best man holiday everyday.
Caity: I could only look at Nia Long's man with hatred in my eyes because of what he did, in real life, to Real Housewife of Beverly Hills' Brandi Glanville. (He cheated on her with a waitress and then Leann Rimes)
Rich: I guess what annoyed me the most was that this movie was consciously updating the universe of the last one, like, Taye Diggs is admonished by has agent for not tweeting. But then it was just flagrantly incorrect about reality. It suggested, for example, that YouTube updated views in real time—Terrence Howard was counting up to confirm the virality of the video in which Regina Hall is seen accepting cash for sex.
Caity: I was about to point that out. The view count thing bugged me so much.
Rich: I felt like I knew more about this movie than the movie did. When Shelby (Melissa De Sousa), who's now a Real Housewife of Westchester, asked why Julian (Harold Perrineau) why he picked Regina Hall's $5 whore character ("Candace") over her and no one had an answer. Well duh, it's because Regina Hall's character recognized his Audre Lorde quote in the first movie. I don't even care about these people and I knew that. Although I have to say that after spending four hours with them (yes, both movies are about two hours long), I cared despite myself. Not as much as you, though.
Caity: I don't care that much. I'm just an easy mark.
Rich: Do you want to talk about your emotions?
Caity: Sure. Can you describe when you first became aware that I had lost my mind?
Rich: I believe it was when Mia's cancer was announced and I saw you wiping your eyes. And was like, "Haha, it'll be so funny later when I tell Caity that I thought she was crying." And then with every new cancer scene (and there were so many) I became aware that this was not a coincidence. And then maybe 75 to 90 minutes in, your face was tear-glazed. And I was like, "She is feeling the fuck out of this." Meanwhile, I was laughing. That woman got visibly sick on the 23rd and was dead on Christmas (on Christmas!).
Caity: I accurately predicted all the major events of this movie no more than 10 minutes in. As soon as Harper remarked that Mia looked thin (a moment played for laughs), I knew she would die of cancer by the end.
Rich: I thought she had a tapeworm. Wouldn't that be interesting? A tapeworm? When Harper's pregnant wife had an ultrasound in the beginning, it looked for a second on that screen that she was carrying conjoined twins. How insane would have that been? Show me that Christmas movie.
Caity: Even though I knew exactly what would happen, it didn't stop me from crying the entire time. Any time a mom dies or a dad holds his baby for the first time—anything like that—I will cry
Rich: The experience of sitting next to you while you wept transformed me. I would normally write off someone who cried through The Best Man Holiday as overly precious. But you are not like that. Your feelings were real. Caity, it was beautiful.
Caity: I probably cried more than you realized even. I think part of the reason I cried is that the woman who played Mia—I have no idea who she is. In fact, her twitter account is just Mia! [Ed. note: Throughout this conversation, Caity and Rich didn't once bother to include the real name of the actor who played Mia, despite doing so for each of the other actors. Her name, for the record, is Monica Calhoun.]
— Mia Morgan Sullivan (@1miaMsullivan) November 7, 2013
This is insane. She is tweeting in character, and it's appropriately dull.
Who do you think aged the best? I have a Top 3:
- Morris Chestnut, who looks better than ever and oh my god that body. What a hunk of stuff.
- Regina Hall, who looks slightly better than last time.
- Sanaa Lathan, who looks exactly the same as last time.
Caity: Yes, I agree with all those Mia did look really small and ill. It made me wonder if the actress is OK! I actually looked up her Twitter to check on her. Is Mia even portrayed by an actress? I have found no evidence she did not die of cancer on a Christmas that is yet to occur.
Rich: I know you were having a moment (a 75-minute moment) but when Mia pulled off her wig to reveal not a patchy balding head but merely a short natural 'do, I snorted. I was dying at all the cancer shit.
Caity: Every time I saw her looking small, I cried. That actress is great at looking tired but happy.
Rich: She's radiating and it isn't just the chemo. Funniest part: the children singing "O Holy Night" in voices that were several years older than they were.
Caity: The child actors in this movie were the worst I have ever seen. I can't remember a movie when the kid actors were so bad that I noticed it. The moment in which you and I laughed inappropriately the hardest is when one little girl looks up at her mom with a tear-stained face, and wails, "THIS DOESN'T FEEL LIKE CHRISTMAS."
Rich: Perfect sentence-long review of this movie, tbh.
Caity: The thing I got out of it was the following excellent joke: The Best Man Holiday? More like The Sad Man Holiday. What's the song from the funeral?
Rich: Anthony Hamilton and Floetry's Marsha Ambrosius ballad duet of Stevie Wonder's "As."
Caity: Play this at my funeral
Rich: I will. I'm playing this at my next orgy: