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'Best Man' crew delivers again in 'Holiday' film

  • From left, Harold Perrineau Jr., Taye Diggs and Terrence Howard star in "Best Man Holiday," about college friends who reunite after 15 years over the Christmas holidays. (Universal Pictures)

"The Best Man Holiday” is a most welcome sequel to the 1999 sleeper hit, “The Best Man,” about a tight-knit circle of black friends who gathered then for a wedding, now to spend Christmas together.

Yes, it's occasionally maudlin and melodramatic, and it's entirely too long. But it's also heartfelt and often downright hilarious, and shows off just how canny Malcolm D. Lee's casting was all those years ago.

Everybody's paired up, now. Pretty much everybody, anyway. And everybody seems successful, with careers, families and high-end cars.

But when Mia (Monica Calhoun) and her star running back husband Lance (Morris Chestnut) invite everybody to their suburban New Jersey mansion for the holidays, cracks show in everyone's facade.

Novelist Harper (Taye Diggs) is a long time between best-sellers and worries about money as he and Robyn (Sanaa Lathan) prepare to have a baby.

Candace (Regina Hall) and Julian (a twitchy Harold Perrineau) run an up-and-coming private school, but there are funding problems.

Jordan (Nia Long) may be a top exec at MSNBC, but she's embarrassed to be embarrassed by having a white beau (Eddie Cibrian).

Marketing consultant and sometime music producer Quentin (Terrence Howard) is still partying and smoking pot like it was 1999. And floozy Shelby (vampy Melissa De Sousa) may be the villain on “Housewives of Westchester.” But she is between marriages and failing as a mom as she manages her fame.

A flashback reminds us of the bonhomie they shared back then. And this cast of seasoned pros slips easily into playing characters who can't help but fall back into their old roles within the group.

Once we get past the cliches and compliments — “You're a sensitive brother,” “I'm your man,” “It's all good” — the fur flies and things get a bit too real.

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