It’s 14 years since ‘The Best Man’, and the ensemble of that American comedy have largely realised their ambitions: Lance (Morris Chestnut) is a football star; Jordan (Nia Long) is a TV news producer; Quentin (Terrence Howard) is a marketing consultant who gets paid to tell white people what black people want and screws anyone he can. Harper (Taye Diggs), meanwhile, is still struggling to equal the success of his first novel, and his wife, Robin (Sanaa Lathan), is soon to give birth after a series of miscarriages. Christmas, naturally, brings everybody together.
There’s something strangely subversive to this sequel, as if writer-director Malcolm D Lee is trying to stake an African-American claim on every dumb melodramatic cliché. That thing where friends get together after years apart and long-buried tensions rise to the surface? That’s ours now. The bit where incriminating documents spill out of an upended bag? Don’t care if it doesn’t make sense in the iPad era – we’re using it anyway. Lee manages the cross currents of their many relationships more artfully than in the first film, but the more profound change is how much his actors, and his skills in managing them, have grown. The script’s sporadic silliness makes every plot turn questionable; how the talent deftly negotiates such goofiness makes the film near-impossible to resist.