Love each other at Holiday time because you won't love this ersatz comedy.
Director: David E. Talbert (Baggage Claim)
Cast: Gabrielle Union (The Birth of a Nation), Jessie T. Usher (Independence Day: Resurgence)
Runtime: I hr 52 min
by John DeSando
Almost Christmas is not even almost original. It is larded with clichés and stereotypes about a black dysfunctional family celebrating the 5 days until Christmas. Along the way is the usual squabbling, infighting, and romance with a very heavy dose of sentiment about patriarch Walter’s (Danny Glover) loss of his wife, and their mother, a year ago.
The intermittent episodes of grief for her are too many and sap the comedy from the film. Yes, some amusing moments creep in and out, especially the dinner scene where an errant husband played by a writer, actor, J.B. Smoove receives his comeuppance. The timing is as good as that of the best comedies of the Three Stooges or Martin and Lewis.
Mo’Nique as Aunt May steals the show with black mamma stereotyping but a real flare for comedy that makes the cliché feel fresh. Although her language is frequently peppered with variations of “your ass,” she has a twinkle that brings out the house’s laughter.
All dad wants as a present is for them to get along. Most of the time they don’t, but, hey, if they did, there’d be no action worth chronicling.
John DeSando, a Los Angeles Press Club first-place winner for National Entertainment Journalism, hosts WCBE’s It’s Movie Time and co-hosts Cinema Classics. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.rr.com