Pop Culture, Race & Politics, Theory & Essay

I Hated The Best Man Holiday…And I Feel Really Bad About It

(The Champ’s latest at EBONY on whether he’s more critical of Black movies than he is with other types of films)

I really wanted to like this movie. Really, really. And since it didn’t happen, I started to feel bad about it. Ashamed, even. Why? Well, aside from Love Jones (which I loved), I’ve been pretty unenthused about most of the movies in the bougie Black romantic canon. (This includes The Best Man, Love and BasketballBrown Sugar, Just Wright, Why Did I Get Married, etc.) But, a few “White” romantic comedies made in that same period (Chasing Amy and High Fidelity, in particular) are among my favorite movies.

Was this my litmus test? Had I become one of “those” types of Black folks? The ones who laugh harder at jokes written by White writers, not because they relate to them more, but because since a White person wrote them, the jokes must be “better?” The ones who are unnecessarily hard on and critical of Black things, Black movies included?

After a couple days, I found an answer.

No. And yes.

No because, while there are dozens of Black-themed movies I didn’t like and had/have no interest in seeing, there are many I liked. Some I loved. Which mirrors my feelings about movies in general. Most are forgettable. Some are good. An even smaller percentage are great. But most are somewhere between “that was okay, I guess” and “eh.” It stands to reason that Black movies would follow that same trend. In fact, when thinking about the three Black-themed movies I saw at the theater this year, they did. One (Fruitvale Station) was great. I thought the other two (The Best Man Holiday and 42) were not. It’s not that I’m more critical of Black movies. I’m just not less critical of them than I am on other movies.

That said, I admit I may have been a bit more critical of The Best Man Holiday than I would have been with a “White” movie with a similar theme. When a movie features young, urban, professional Black people—basically, people like me—and receives praise for creating realistic and relatable characters and themes, I am going to be sensitive to the realness and relatability. If this is supposed to be some facsimile of the types of lives led by the type of people I know, and everyone’s saying they get it right, I want to see if they got it right. And, when it contains too many things that just could not have ever, never, ever, never happened in the same bougie Black universe I occupy—like married men sharing explicit sexual details about their wives (Why don’t movies ever get Black male conversations right???)—I can’t help but notice it.

(Read the rest at EBONY)

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Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for GQ.com And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't. Whatever.

  • Esta Fiesta

    I thought it was good. Of course there are parts that are unreal – it’s a movie it’s supposed to be. It had its shortcomings as most movies do (i.e. I dunno why it had 2 be over 2 hours) and there were predictable moments but overall I thought it was decent. Also you have to remember a sequel is hard to do 14 years later.

  • keith cooper

    I feel your pain champ. I actually like the film for about 3/4 through. I didnt care for the overdone drama. No one ever checks Nia long character hand is the conflict of the film, and Terrance Howard character just seems unnecessary. Yet it could be worse. It could be a tyler perry film.

    • keith cooper

      One viewing of it is enough for me

  • writelaughdream

    I think it was a good film and I can be overly critical of black films. I mean at the end of the day it felt good. It felt like I was catching up with old friends. But I also loved the original Best Man. But I get the plight. I had to tell my women’s ministry at church that I would not see a Tyler Perry film for their Christmas outing. Can’t and won’t do it to myself again. lol. End of the day, everyone is entitled to their own opinion. Being Black doesn’t make it mandatory to love Black cinema.

    • BlueWave1

      Real talk, this one felt a lot like a Tyler Perry film. It was basically the same premise as the first “Why Did I Get Married?” flick. As I was watching it that film kept coming to mind. I know everyone wants to tar and feather all thing Tyler Perry. But this film wasn’t THAT much different from some of his work.

      • writelaughdream

        Tar and feather is such strong verbiage. His films just have a certain cheese factor too them. And all aren’t as bad as to me as the ones with Madea. I can see where certain things may have been perryesque, but all in all they kept it together enough for me to enjoy.

      • BreezeJC

        Why Did I get Married Too was actually a really great film, this one way hella corny

  • The only thing i can really say i didn’t like was that it felt super rushed (despite being long af lol). I feel like no one’s story was developed enough. I’m looking forward to a Part 3.

    Oh and i didn’t like Morris Chestnut’s weight loss. For a minute i was thinking there was something wrong with both of them and someone was gonna have to adopt the kids.

  • I enjoyed it, as it seems everyone in the theatre did as well. It might not have been the most realistic but don’t see many romantic comedies as being particularly realistic, to be honest. I was entertained.

  • Secret Sauce

    I haven’t seen the film or plan on seeing the film because well, it’s a chick flick. And I don’t do chick flicks. Do chicks? Yes, Netflicks? Meh. Chick netficks? Nah. But anyway, social media tells me that people are ballin’ during the film. Why? Judging by the preview it seemed like a black romantic happy comedy thingy.

    • kirk

      Sounds like a dramedy to me! And it sounds like Why did I get married III. All that was missing is janet jackson crying her ass off. No thanks. Who’s gonna step up the game?

  • BreezeJC

    To be fair, the movie was 3 stars. PERSONALLY it was 1 star. There was some laughs and great emotion, but the realism of how the drama unfolded was too forced, and honestly it reinforced critical stereotypes about black folk. The fact that the crew was living wealthy/high middle class lives wasn’t enough — black women are still catty & violent and the only way a black man is going to be RICH is by playing ball; black authors/teachers etc. will still struggle. There isn’t enough well off black men and women to go around, so when you climb the corporate latter you will “go white”, and your white partner will not fit in with “your black friends” so he won’t be highly involved in your social life.
    What was up with Lance & Mia’s mixed kids can someone PLEASE speak on this!? Lol.
    Most annoying was the effeminate characterization of the black male characters. I’m not saying black men aren’t allowed to cry, but the movie would have been more realistic if they were more stoic because our men DO try very hard to be as such, even if emotion sometimes is warranted. The men reminded me of white characters in rom-coms or like The Hangover or something, it was ridiculous and you can absolutely tell that the script followed the lead of more “mainstream” rom-coms, the black wit and snark I anticipated left me empty…I feel bad for hating it too *pout*

    • Sparger

      i’m glad you mentioned those 2 mixed babies. I thought the big drama was going to be Terrance Howard was the father of those 2 kids. No one wants to mention that foolishness.

  • KLysha

    I totally feel your pain about this movie. My biggest gripe about the movie was how they turned Lance’s character into some kind of superhero at the end. He singlehandedly won a footballgame by pushing THREE defenders across the line to fulfill his dying wifes wish, then days after the death of his wife he has the mental fortitude to deliver a BREACH baby in the back of a moving vehicle in snow. Come on son! That’s definitely the kind of over the top antics I expect from a Tyler Perry film. But it was still fun to revisit the characters. And even with the shortcomings of this movie I’d probably go see a 3rd installment if they make one.

  • hot fucker
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