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Review: 'The Best Man Holiday' Offers a Thoughtful Reunion, But is Emotionally Taxing

vibe-vixen-Buy Tickets to See The Best Man Holiday and Win a Girls Night Out-carouselThe 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 & BasketballHow 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 42Fruitvale 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. — Kevin L. Clark

vibe-vixen-BESTmanholiday-carouselFor 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.

best man holidayBut 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.

best man holidayAlmost 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:

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SZA Calls For Peace While Receiving 'Rule Breaker' Award At Billboard Women In Music

SZA called for peace and understanding at Billboard's Women In Music event Thursday (Dec. 6).

During her speech for the Rule Breaker award, singer-songwriter recalled today's climate, asking her peers and those watching at home for a little bit of peace.

"I'm sorry for the state of the world honestly, for everybody in this room and I pray that all of us just get through it a little bit easier and just try not to lash out at each other," she said.

The recurring theme of unity among women was also heard on the carpet from artists like Tierra Whack. In addition to her message of love, the "Broken Clocks" singer also thanked her TDE family for rocking with her creative process.

"I'm just so thankful for everybody having patience with me, " she said. Shouting out the key members of her family in attendance, the TDE affiliate gave praise to her mother, father, and grandma. In this brief speech centered around the artist's growth Solána Imani Rowe, known more commonly as her stage name, Rowe everyone for their trust in her.

"I'm grateful for everybody taking the time to have the patience to watch someone grow, it is painful and sometimes exciting but mostly boring. And I am thankful for Top (Top Dawg Entertainment's Anthony Tiffith) for not dropping me from that label. For Peter, who I change my ideas every day and he be like okay I like this," she continued.

Thanking the likes of musical powerhouses like Alicia Keys and Whack, "The Weekend" singer offered her appreciation and condolences to Ariana Grande.

Watch SZA accept the Rule Breaker award above.

READ MORE: Anderson .Paak, Tierra Whack And More Praise Female Artists At 2018 Billboard Women In Music

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Beyoncé, Rihanna, And J. Lo Make Forbes’ Highest-Paid Women In Music List

As November comes to a close, many publications will be crafting their year-end lists for all things pop culture. Forbes released a ranking of the world's highest-paid women in music on Monday (Nov. 19), with Beyoncé, Jennifer Lopez, and Rihanna holding it down for women of color.

Beyoncé comes in at No. 3 on the list with an earning of $60 million as she made most of her money through her historical Coachella performance, the joint album with husband JAY-Z, Everything is Love, and the Carters' On The Run II Tour in support of its release.

Jennifer Lopez made No. 6 for earnings tallying of over $47 million thanks to her lucrative Las Vegas residency, endorsements, and shows including World of Dance where she serves as a judge.

Rihanna follows behind the "Love Don't Cost A Thing" diva at No. 7 with earnings of over $37.5 million. Although she hasn't toured since 2016—thanks to her cosmetics and lingerie lines, Fenty Beauty and Savage Lingerie—the Bajan pop star has been keeping herself busy.

Forbes' annual list (which factors in pretax earnings from June 1, 2017, through June 1, 2018) has placed Katy Perry at the top with over $83 million in profits due to her gig as an American Idol judge and her 80-date Witness: The Tour that brought in an estimated $1 million per night.

Scroll down to see Forbes' full list below.

Katy Perry ($83 million) Taylor Swift ($80 million) Beyoncé ($60 million) P!nk ($52 million) Lady Gaga ($50 million) Jennifer Lopez ($47 million) Rihanna ($37.5 million) Helene Fischer ($32 million) Celine Dion ($31 million) Britney Spears ($30 million)

 

READ MORE: Nas Makes Forbes’ List Of ‘Hip-Hop Cash Kings’ For The First Time

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Kelly Rowland Hops In Her Bag With New Single "Kelly"

Kelly Rowland has it all and isn't afraid to brag about it on her new single, "Kelly."

Released Thursday (Nov. 22), the singer goes the clubby, confident route while rightfully dropping her attributes like her relationship with God, smoldering looks (a.k.a the drip) among other things. With "Kelly" being the first single since her 2013's Talk a Good Game, the singer comes out swinging, reminding everyone of her power in the game.

The mother of one has promised that her new tunes will be edgier and most honest than her past work that included vulnerable tracks like "Dirty Laundry" and massive hits like "Motivation" and "Commander." Speaking with Vogue over the summer, Ms. Kelly disclosed a few details behind the album.

“It’s about love, loss, and gain and whether it’s professional or with family or whatever, it’s just honest," she said. "I had no choice but to be honest and authentic with this record: it’s about friendship and marriage.”

She also explained a drop in confidence caused her hiatus. “I was thinking about pulling back from recording, but I couldn’t help myself: I still wanted to record. I still felt like I was missing something. The third year just came and left so fast. The fourth year I said: ‘I have to get to work’ and now I’m ready to release some music! I felt like I wasted so much time, and it was my husband who actually called me out on it. He said: ‘Babe, as great as those records were, I think you were nervous, you got gun-shy’, and when he said that it was like boom, a gong went off.”

Glad to have you back, Ms. Kelly. Listen to the eponymous record up top.

READ MORE: Kelly Rowland Debuts Smoke x Mirrors Eyewear Collection At Barneys New York

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