Man, I forgot how awesome Terrence Howard is.
It’s been so long since the eccentric Oscar nominee with the red-boned good looks has wowed me in a movie that it slipped my mind how hilarious and wonderfully unpredictable he can be in the right role. Thankfully, he returns to the breakout role that made people take notice of him in The Best Man Holiday, the sequel to The Best Man, the 1999 sleeper hit that dared to show black people being as upwardly mobile on film—and, therefore, just as relatable—as white people.
Howard reprises his role as Q, the tell-it-like-is slickster who’s part of a crew of college friends-turned-adult buppies. The whole gang returns for this sequel, including Taye Diggs’ secret-harboring writer, Nia Long’s career-minded powerwoman and Morris Chestnut’s God-fearing football star, who still holds a grudge against Diggs’ former best friend for having a one-night-stand with his wife (Monica Calhoun) back in college. They all convene at Chestnut’s mansion for the holidays where laughter, tension and unexpected sadness will be served. (If the original was seen as a black The Big Chill, consider this the black Peter’s Friends.)
The fact that the entire cast has returned once again shows how dire it is for black talent in Hollywood. Malcolm D. Lee, the writer/director of the original, seems to have made this film not only to give these performers roles worthy of their acumen, but also to remind himself he can create some proud, respectable product as well. (Lee, who’s been stuck making shitty comedies these past few years, helmed the latest Scary Movie installment that came out earlier this year.)
Both Lee and his film’s stars perform as though they may never have an opportunity like this again. Lee packs this movie with so much stuff, including a Lord of the Rings-style series of endings, and yet, since he properly gives everyone in the cast both comedic and dramatic moments in which to shine, you grant him this latitude. (Not to mention that he brings up issues of faith that make you wonder if he’s trying to be a better version of Tyler Perry.) The Best Man Holiday is indeed a dignified, rather all-encompassing reminder that black people act, write and direct—if Hollywood just gives them the chance.