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Review: 'The Best Man Holiday' Offers A Thoughtful Reunion, But Is Emotionally Taxing

The 1999 surprise hit, The Best Man, became everything audiences wanted in a film. It launched several of its cast members into the stratosphere, and jumpstarted a flood of equally classic African American rom-coms. But how does the sequel fare almost 15 years later?

Writer-director Malcolm D. Lee has some explaining to do. He knew that audiences couldn't wait to see another installment of his popular Best Man film, and eagerly anticipated that day with baited breath. Sadly, too much time has passed since then and audiences were left wondering whatever happened to that crew of college friends we've grown to love and admire.

When word bubbled that Lee was putting the gang back together, it signaled a revival of sorts, a return to the roots of what made audiences appreciate films like Love & Basketball, How Stella Got Her Groove Back and Love Jones. Thankfully, it wasn't all a ruse, and we were treated to a cast dinner, which found Lee's ensemble not only still looking good ("Black don't crack."), but involved cinematically within a year full of great works starring, profiling, and directed by black Hollywood talent. The Best Man Holiday caps off a film schedule full of interesting films such as 42, Fruitvale Station, Lee Daniels' The Butler, and 12 Years a Slave. So, this sequel was a welcomed change from the regular "shoot-em-up," drama-filled epics we've come to loathe over time.

For those unfamiliar with the plot, The Best Man Holiday picks up after the events in the original where Harper's (Taye Diggs) first book caused all sorts of drama on the eve of his best friend's wedding. Fast forward a decade plus, and now the characters have all become their own success stories. Lance (Morris Chestnut) and Mia (Monica Calhoun), the couple who almost never were, have seemingly surpassed the original friction and created a wonderful life with a successful marriage, NFL career, and well-behaved children. Jordan (Nia Long), has moved on from her lusting of Harper, and found love in the arms of her new boyfriend named Brian (Eddie Cibrian), who is, well, melanin-deprived. Julian (Harold Perrineau) and Candace (Regina Hall), who met at Lance's bachelor party in the first film, are now happily married with kids. The loudmouths of the group, Shelby (Melissa De Sousa) and Quentin (Terrence Howard) have increased their magnitude for mania by continuing to create trouble for their friends during the Christmas Eve holidays. Lastly, Harper's wife, Robyn (Sanaa Lathan), is finally expecting their first child after years of going to the fertility bank.

All these characters and their successes mask an extra layer, which gets peeled back through Malcolm D. Lee's script. With nearly 15 years having elapsed since the original film, many of the highlights given to the audience as a reminder of what used to be, plays out cluttered and muted. The hijinks that led to creating a whimsical charm in the first movie, return in the sequel, such as the scene where the fly male cast performs an amusing rendition of New Edition's "Can You Stand The Rain". Those happy moments and reminiscent times do little to shadow the light mayhem that stems within the group. Eventually, the picture shies away from the Yuletide spirit to fully immerse itself in melodrama mode, finding everyone in the cast with a little bit of dirt on their shoulders.

But in The Best Man Holiday, it's not the cast who should be the one to blame for seeming to be less fully actualized than before. Lee's script glaringly takes shortcuts, such as in a scene where Julian finds a disturbing video of his wife on YouTube. As a social activist, his character shouldn't really be afraid to confront his significant other about the events he sees, but Lee chooses to go for scandal, which ends up going horribly (and unnecessarily) awry. The instant Lee dives into the sentimentality, he goes way too deep: from the Stepford-esque kids ("too cute and schmaltzy") to the easy-to-telegraph "a-ha" moment that is the big plot reveal — the end result is a lot of groan-induced moans within the theater.

There are moments that even baffle the audience, as we're expected to believe these successful, intelligent, and good-hearted characters have grown from the tensions of the first film, and yet they still descend into an episode of Basketball Wives right in the thick of the film.

For what it's worth, The Best Man Holiday will not be de-constructed by audiences who are looking to nitpick such as this critic is. The comical repartee between the cast hasn't waned over the years, and they all offer some very likable performances despite the ominous plot that looms within the film. The fault of the picture comes from the jam-packed story, which written by Lee, suffers from too many predictable plot points, too many emotionally manipulative moments, and too few clever cinematic moments. Despite the heavy-handed usage of sexuality with religiosity, the ensemble cast — namely Taye Diggs and Monica Calhoun — stand above it all to provide an unbalanced result for fans and audiences.

Almost fifteen years ago, The Best Man exemplified the growing trend within Hollywood that had taken root within moviegoers' consciousness. Now, The Best Man Holiday showcases that regal fineness, that charisma in a film that finds Lee with so much to say about God, faith, fame, and family. The result can be thoughtful and heartwarming, but also quite frustrating and disappointing.

It might not be the holiday gift worth giving this Christmas season.

Don't believe us?! Take a look at the trailer below:

Universal's The Best Man Holiday is rated R with a run time of 122 minutes. It is currently in theaters now.

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Oprah Responds To Viral Video Of Her Eating Unseasoned Chicken

A hilarious old video of Oprah Winfrey making an uncomfortable face as she dives into a piece of unseasoned chicken has been circulating the Internet all week. While these sort of silly videos wouldn't usually garner a response from the billionaire, Oprah surprised everyone when she shared a video explaining the chicken-eating experience and her initial reaction.

To give you some context, the video is a clip from The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2006, in which O invited her guest Anna Ginsberg to make her award-winning chicken dish. After one bite, it became clear that Oprah wasn't too pleased with the chicken's bland taste. She even asked at the time if she could add a little seasoning.

I often think about the time Oprah did a cooking segment with a woman whose chicken recipe won $1 million, and Oprah's jaw dropped when she tasted it and realized the lady didn't even add seasoning pic.twitter.com/rfs7PS1Jc3

— Spencer Althouse (@SpencerAlthouse) December 9, 2018

Now, more than 10 years later, Oprah is setting the record straight. In her new video posted on Instagram on Thursday (Dec. 13), she noted that she likes to provide a pleasurable experience for her guests but also live in her truth. On that particular day, she was presented with a dilemma. "I was having a moment of trying to decide: Do I want her to have a great time? What is my real moment of truth?" she said. "Because the truth for me was that I'm used to having salt and pepper on my chicken. That's just the truth...That's what I was thinking, 'This chicken needs some salt and pepper.'"

So that's that; Oprah has spoken. She may have played it off at the time, but like many others, she would prefer her chicken with seasoning.

 

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Over the weekend, a 2006 video of @oprah tasting an *interesting* chicken dish made its rounds online. We asked the O of O, what REALLY went through her mind as the cameras were on her—and she answered. Swipe left if you haven’t seen the hysterical video! #tbt

A post shared by O, The Oprah Magazine (@oprahmagazine) on Dec 13, 2018 at 7:13am PST

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'Sesame Street' Praised For The Inclusion Of Homeless Character

Sesame Street continues its crusade to include statement-making characters on their block. This time around, families will be introduced to Lily, the show’s first homeless character.

According to USA Today, Lily- an adorable hot pink, red haired puppet- was first introduced to the show in 2011, but in new online clips, Lily opens up about being homeless and staying with friends.

"Now we don't have our own place to live, and sometimes I wonder if we'll ever have our own home," she says to Elmo in one clip. In her initial appearances on the show, Lily discusses her family’s food insecurities, meaning they didn’t have much to eat.

“We know children experiencing homelessness are often caught up in a devastating cycle of trauma – the lack of affordable housing, poverty, domestic violence, or other trauma that caused them to lose their home, the trauma of actually losing their home, and the daily trauma of the uncertainty and insecurity of being homeless,” said Sherrie Westin, President of Global Impact and Philanthropy at Sesame Workshop.

“We want to help disrupt that cycle by comforting children, empowering them, and giving them hope for the future," she continues. "We want them to know that they are not alone and home is more than a house or an apartment – home is wherever the love lives.”

In recent years, Sesame Street has introduced a slew of ground-breaking new characters, including Julia, a puppet with autism, and Alex, a character whose father is incarcerated.

READ MORE: 'Sesame Street' Introduces A Character Who Has A Father In Jail

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Cardi B To Join James Corden On A Forthcoming "Carpool Karaoke" Segment

Your rapper’s favorite rapper Cardi B is slated to make her debut on “Car Pool Karaoke” with James Corden, Billboard reports. The Late Late Show host teased the upcoming episode, which airs Monday (Dec.17) via Instagram along with a small schedule of the show’s upcoming guests.

 

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Here’s what the next two weeks look like on the @latelateshow! Seeing the year out with a bang x x x

A post shared by James Corden (@j_corden) on Dec 10, 2018 at 5:17pm PST

In addition to the “Money” rapper, Amber Heard and Armie Hammer will also appear on the same episode. Corden is closing out the last leg of 2018 strong by having a slew of other prominent stars on the show on the last week before the program goes on break for the holidays. The likes of Gwen Stefani, RuPaul, Jennifer Lopez, Emily Blunt, Leah Remini, Lin-Manuel Miranda, among others will be featured on the show after Bardi’s Monday episode.

To say the least, we're sure the British talk show host and the newly minted Grammy-nominated rapper are going to have the time of their lives.

The 26-year-old's now estranged husband Offset, along with the other members of Migos were guests on the beloved show. Joining Corden as he drove through the streets of Los Angeles, the trio performed a slew of hits including "Walk It Talk It"  while also giving a nod of praise to past hits, including Whitney Houston's "Wanna Dance With Somebody."

With all the fun Migos had with Corden, we can only imagine what shenanigans James and Belcalis are going to get into.

READ MORE: Cardi B Buys Her Mother's House

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