Christmas movies with an all-black cast have become a yearly tradition. I would call them ‘Black Christmas movies’ but that gives me bad memories of the last film I walked out on 10 years ago. The quality of these films have historically been hit and miss. You have some films that critically very good like The Best Man Holiday and Soul Food. You also have stinkers like The Perfect Holiday and A Madea Christmas that we wish we could forget. Seeing how all these films are playing second fiddle to Jingle All The Way.
Almost Christmas begins with an opening scene that is a chronological history of a couple from the 1970s to present day. Danny Glover plays a man named Walter, who lost his longtime wife a year earlier so this will be the first family Christmas without their mother. The big family reunion involves a son running for Congress, a former basketball player from the early 90s, a star college football player, two ridiculously stubborn sisters, and a drunk auntie background singer who thank god we never have to hear sing. The family has 5 days to be together for the holiday season but shenanigans and hijinks occur that make it a miracle if someone isn’t shot before Christmas dinner.
What I hate about these types of movies is that the story is always played out like a soap opera. The conflicts are artificial and the melodrama is made for daytime tv. Outside of the core storyline of a family dealing with the loss of their mother during the holiday, the rest of the story is built with cliches and doesn’t offer much in character development. With a story that thin, the cast needs to work overtime to make the film entertaining. Fortunately, they give the laughs and entertaining banter throughout. J.B. Smoove and Monique steal every scene that they are in. Danny Glover is charming and carries the emotional load for the film. Even Jessie T. Usher shows great charisma that makes you wonder, where the hell was this performance during Independence Day 2.
Almost Christmas has notable flaws in terms of writing and having an imbalance in character use but I couldn’t say I didn’t enjoy the film. Generations of families are properly presented remaking it a movie it is an enjoyable experience for the family no matter how old or young. For those wondering if Almost Christmas is a hit or a miss, I say the movie hits enough to make it a good Christmas film, not one of the best but a good time regardless.
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