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Review: Almost Christmas

Almost Christmas
11.11.2016
4 10

almost christmas danny glover gabrielle union j.b. smoove jessie t usher kimberly elise mo'nique nicole ari parker omar epps romany malco

PLOT: After the death of their mother, a dysfunctional family tries to get along on the first Christmas without her.

REVIEW: It’s not even Thanksgiving and we already have our first yuletide family comedy in theatres, and it’s about what you’d expect. ALMOST CHRISTMAS features an all-star cast and a ton of holiday music with a huge helping of sentimental humor along the way. The question is, is it actually funny? Well, there may be a few laughs spread throughout, but this is not a particularly good movie by any stretch. The on-screen talent are all fine, but it ultimately feels like all the sitcom “very special episodes” all rolled into one. A sports injury leads to addiction? Check. A philandering husband? Check. The death of a patriarch? You betcha. If you are in the mood for a Lifetime Movie of the week and cheesy coffee commercials, you may find a reason to embrace this sappy family feature.

Danny Glover plays Walter, a recent widower hosting the first Christmas gathering after the death of his beloved wife. He is struggling to recreate the wonderful meals the love of his life would cook, as well as make sure his children all behave. And speaking of children, they have a ton. And once they all arrive, all hell breaks loose. Almost immediately, two of the sisters begin fighting. The wife’s sister Aunt May (Mo’Nique) arrives to stir things up a bit. And of course, the grandchildren are all gathered to laugh at the ludicrous behavior of the adult children. With five days before the big dinner, will this crazy family be able to get it together and realize the joy of spending time with the ones you love? What do you think?

almost christmas danny glover gabrielle union j.b. smoove jessie t usher kimberly elise mo'nique nicole ari parker omar epps romany malco

Director David E. Talbert has collected a solid cast. You have Gabrielle Union, Kimberly Elise, Jessie T. Usher, Nicole Ari Parker, J.B. Smoove and Romany Malco, and they are all quite entertaining considering what they have to work with. Even still, the relationships never feel terribly realistic and I didn’t believe for a single moment they were family. While I really enjoyed Ms. Union, the by-the-numbers sibling rivalry between her and Ms. Elise isn’t fully developed. They play two sisters who seemingly hate each other, but suddenly, halfway through the movie they have a dance routine they do together - it may be a requirement to have a bunch of folks dancing and singing in a holiday comedy apparently. The relations felt mostly superficial, and there are absolutely no surprises in store. This is a predictable family comedy, nothing more.

ALMOST CHRISTMAS begins with a nice little montage of how their family began. And frankly, I felt as though I was watching a coffee commercial. And then we meet the now grown children. I’m sure most of you have had that one Christmas with family where everybody just argues. Well that’s what you get here. Will they come around? I’ll leave that to you to figure out. The problem here is that the fights just became tedious. The characters are so poorly written that I was never fully invested in any of it. And man do they fight. If you enjoy being in the middle of dumb arguments, you may find yourself snickering here, but it does get tiresome after a bit. And I mean really tiresome.

almost christmas danny glover gabrielle union j.b. smoove jessie t usher kimberly elise mo'nique nicole ari parker omar epps romany malco

Once again, I have to go back to the cast. While I certainly didn’t get a family feel with this group, the performers occasionally hit the right notes. Sure Gabrielle Union’s Rachel storyline wasn’t terribly interesting, thankfully she is still quite engaging as the sister struggling to make it through law school. And then there is Danny Glover. Here is the heart and soul of this feature. Every so often you felt a little hint of sweetness, and much of that can be contributed to this actor. That is the one time I truly was moved. Mr. Glover adds enough to give genuine emotion to the film - what his character was going through broke my heart a bit. Yet when it came to humor, the bright spot is Mo’Nique who brings a ton of life to Aunt May. She legitimately made me laugh - although her funniest moments came at the end credits when they show a few bloopers.

ALMOST CHRISTMAS is about as basic as you can get. Occasionally you’ll find a little heart with Danny Glover who is trying to keep his family together while still dealing with his own grief. You also have some genuine laughs with Mo’Nique who steals nearly every scene she is in. Really, all the on-screen talent has a moment or two to shine. It would have been nice to see the lovely Nicole Ari Parker have a little more to do. What you have here is a good cast that is doing their best with standard material. There is nothing new, but if you want a generic family Christmas comedy I guess you could do worse. It may not be great but it’s not necessarily ho ho horrible.

Source: JoBlo.com

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