“The Best Man Holiday:” A movie that will get you in the spirit

It’s Tuesday night and the parking lot of the movie theater is packed. I thought I was the only person too cheap to pay full price for a movie. Turns out $6 night at Regal Cinemas is a popular spot. A man in the crowd who appears to be a regular, asks an employee: “Why are so many people here tonight?”

“The Best Man Holiday” she responded. “Everyone is here to see it.” The movie — about friendship and forgiveness — doesn’t disappoint. It’s a great way to kick off the holiday season.

Most of us look forward to the holidays with a mix of excitement and dread knowing that anytime you get a bunch of friends and family together who haven’t seen each other in a while — something crazy is likely to jump off.

The friends in “Best Man Holiday” have known each other since college. The last time they were together was for the wedding of Lance — a hunky football played by Morris Chestnut — and Mia (Monica Calhoun), who Lance believed was as pure as the driven snow. Ah secrets: they made for a memorable movie in 1999 when “The Best Man” hit the big screen.

If you saw the original, you know what happens. If you didn’t, you’ll still enjoy the sequel; which does a nice job of catching you up on all the characters. The movie grossed $30 million in its first weekend. Clearly, fans were anxious to get re-acquainted with these friends.

The glitzy set makes us all wish we had a crib like Lance and Mia, who have four beautiful children and what appears to be a picture-perfect life. Writer/director Malcolm D. Lee (Spike Lee’s cousin) does a terrific job getting all the original actors, including Terrence Howard, Taye Diggs, Sanaa Lathan and the always gorgeous Nia Long to star in the sequel.

The movie’s themes will resonate with audiences of all ages and races. The men in our audience seemed to enjoy it too. My 23-year-old loved it and suggested I see it right away. It will make you laugh and cry, she said. (The woman seated next to me cried enough for both of us). After seeing it, I got it. It’s a fun, romantic comedy with some touching moments and memorable lines. It’s a mature holiday movie (leave the kids at home) that some people will enjoy seeing more than once.

In addition to having a great soundtrack (Especially the Anthony Hamilton/Marsha Ambrosius remake of Stevie Wonder’s “As,” the movie showcases the talents of African-American actors and actresses. Watching the sequel, I found myself wondering why I hadn’t seen some of these actors in a while.

Maybe they are picky about the roles they take on; or perhaps they are being passed over for roles because they don’t fit the profile movie makers have in mind for the central characters. Some, like Taye Diggs, have been cast in TV dramas such as “Private Practice,” a Shonda Rhimes creation. Still, I would love to see more of Sanaa Lathan, Nia Long and Regina Hall. These women can act. The same is true for Howard, who delivers some of the best lines in the movie and whose devilish character makes you yearn for a Best Man no. 3!

It’s nice to see young black professionals leading mostly responsible lives. Sure, they’ve had their share of setbacks; yet they’re still very much in the pursuit of happiness on the family and career front. Their conflicts are real and they rely on faith and the bonds of friendship to press forward.