The success of Malcolm D. Lee’s long-awaited sequel to The Best Man, last week’s opener The Best Man Holiday, didn’t come as a surprise to the first film’s large and dedicated fanbase, though plenty of people exhibited nothing less than abject shock that the ensemble dramedy would do so well at the box office. It looks like those detractors won’t be caught off-guard again though, and the news that the film is set for a third entry should help stave off both astonishment and inappropriate headlines (yes, we’re thinking of USA Today’s now-scrubbed title about the film, which they incorrectly and offensively deemed “race-themed”).
Deadline Hollywood reports the Lee is currently in talks with Universal to write, direct, and produce a third film in the moneymaking franchise. While there was a fourteen-year gap between the first two films, it is not expected that nearly so much time will elapse between the second and third entries. But just who will return for the next Best feature? As Mike Fleming at Deadline notes, there is “no word yet on locking in the ensemble cast. I don’t believe they have options on a third film, so clearly all of them will be looking for pay bumps.” Surely the large cast will all return (after all, they did after fourteen years, as the ensemble element is one of the best parts of these films), but who is most essential to the success of the next chapter? (Note: spoilers ahead if you have not yet seen The Best Man Holiday.)
1. Terrence Howard (Quentin)
There’s no easy way around this – Howard’s hilarious, hyper, and overwhelmingly insane performance in The Best Man Holiday is a true treat and one of the most unexpectedly delightful supporting turns we’ve seen all year. Really. There should be some sort of award for just really going for it, which Howard could share with The Hunger Games: Catching Fire’s Stanley Tucci. If nothing else, that award ceremony would feature some damn fine outfits and a lot of spirits for all its attendees. Mirth! But it’s not just a guns-blazing performance that makes Howard the most essential returning cast member – it’s the end of this latest film, which features (SPOILER AND STUFF) a dizzy Quentin telling pals Harper and Lance that he’s getttinnnng marrrrried. We didn’t need a report that Lee was set for a new sequel – it was obvious from the film’s last scene. Who wants some champagne?
2. Taye Diggs (Harper)
For better or worse, Harper is the ostensible main character of the Best Man franchise. After all, it was his book that drove the drama of the first film, and a lot of the latest entry centered on his attempts to write yet another book about his friends (this one a biography of retiring NFL player Lance). The films start and end with Harper, and while the films are ensemble pieces, he is the center of the action. He’s essential.
3. Morris Chestnut (Lance)
With the (SPOILERS) death of Lance’s beloved wife Mia during The Best Man Holiday, we’re expecting that a big part of Quentin’s sure-to-be-deranged wedding will feature a mourning Lance perhaps looking for love again. You name a better place to find love and romance than a wacky wedding!
4. Nia Long (Jordan)
A large part of both Best Man films is the unrequited romance between Harper and Jordan, and while Harper is happily married (and now a dad!), we’re positive that the drama between these two isn’t quite over. You name a better place to stir up old emotions than a wacky wedding!
5. Sanaa Lathan (Robyn)
One of the most levelheaded members of the crew, Harper’s wife Robyn is the center of calm in otherwise turbulent water. Too bad she had to spend most of the last film acting nuts (pregnancy hormones, that old cinematic trope), though that means she’ll likely get to calm down a bit in the next outing. A normal person? Sure, we’ll take some Robyn.
6. Harold Perrineau (Julian) and 7. Regina Hall (Candace)
It’s very nearly a tie between the married couple, but Perrineau just barely edges out Hall, simply because Quentin can’t have a wedding without all his best dude pals around. But the pair went through some big drama in the last film, and the franchise simply doesn’t require any more of that for the third feature. Show up if you want, guys!
8. Melissa De Sousa (Shelby)
“Real Housewife” Shelby went through a few changes of heart during the course of The Best Man Holiday, and the film ended with the formerly awful drama queen possibly taking some steps to being, well, more like an actual human. She’s not so essential, she’d simply be nice to have around. (We will eat our words if she ends up being Quentin’s bride, however.)
9. John Michael Higgins (Stan)
Yes, the funny man had a very limited role in the last film as Harper’s nutty agent, but he turned his less-than-ten-minute sequence into a memorable one (it even included actually good jokes about Twitter). We need more Stan next time around.
10. Monica Calhoun (Mia)
Yes, it’s true (SPOILERS, SERIOUSLY), The Best Man Holiday wasn’t just about the reunion of pals – it was about the reunion of pals as orchestrated by their dying friend. Mia may have passed away during the film’s final act, but her spirit lives on in Harper and Robyn’s baby girl, also named Mia in her honor, and born in the back of an SUV thanks to the brave (?) actions of Lance and his experienced hands. Calhoun certainly doesn’t need to come back for a third outing, but we won’t rule out the possibility that she’ll pop up in an angelic form to help her mourning husband along.
11. Eddie Cibrian (Brian)
Sorry, Cibrian, you certainly turned on the charm as Jordan’s well-meaning new boyfriend, but despite her claims that she’s going to start embracing love, your character disappeared so much during just one weekend that it was a surprise whenever ol’ Brian popped up again. Jordan may be ready to run at love full force, but we’re not expecting you to be at the end of that race. Godspeed. Perhaps you’ll turn up in a torn-up picture.