A Family struggles to come together for the first Christmas since the death of their Mother. Each different member of the family has their own hardships and challenges heading into the last five days before the one day that we all place so much pressure on ourselves to get right. Danny Glover stars as the Widower in this comedy that is one of the better Christmas movies over the last 10 years or so.
I want to get this out of the way now so that I can talk about this movie. I’m going to use the word Christmas a lot here. Over the last few years I’ve been told to call it The Holidays, but I’m a 41 year old Irish man, I was raised Catholic but it never stuck, and I call it Christmas. For me Christmas has never been about the religious end of the festival, it’s been about the family coming together from where ever we were, and eating so much we have violent nausea. It’s a time of year that you actually consider being nice to the person you don’t want to show any grace to and singing songs that you can sing badly and no one will care. However you spend your Christmas or whatever you choose to call the final days of the year, I don’t mind as long as you are safe, have a great one.
Almost Christmas could have been a knockout comedy punch and they are like five to ten jokes away from being the comedy of the year. What lets the film down in a major way is the great performance of Danny Glover. How can a great performance let a film down? Well, I’ll tell you, because I like you. The film starts by showing the family from the 1970’s to last year when the family celebrated Christmas together in happiness. Then we move into the start of this year when they lost their Mother unexpectedly. Danny Glover can deliver great performances with ease, you don’t have to doubt that, he’s more than the Lethal Weapon movies have shown. But even when he’s happy in this film you get that morbid feeling of loss that he should be showing about the death of his loving wife, it’s just that these moments feel like a different film to the rest of the movie. When the rest of the family are together then it’s a different kettle of fish altogether.
Gabrielle Union, who doesn’t seem to age, in the same way as Dorian Gray, plays the youngest Daughter who is going through financial hard times after her divorce, with only her strong willed daughter to keep her going. Jessie T. Usher is the youngest son, a college athlete who is addicted to pain meds, and gives a great performance as a young man confused by the future that looks so bright and the loss of his Mom who filled his world.
The rest of the cast do a fine job and the kids are adorable and funny. It’s J.B. Smoove as Lonnie and Mo’Nique as May that claim some of the better jokes in the film. There is a feeling that this should have been a series of films, or a once off TV event series, leading up to this film, but you can’t fault a lot of the production values. The script could have been funnier, and that’s a major failing for me, I did laugh more at this film though than I have at a lot of the so called comedies that we’ve seen this year, with special mention to the unfunny Ride Along 2, and the horrid Keeping up with the Joneses.
Christmas movies of late have been far from those in the past which stick in our memories and we keep coming back to from the end of November until the new year. Almost Christmas is a step, a small one, back towards that feeling. I wouldn’t mind paying to see this in a cinema and don’t believe the trailer which does this no favours. Almost Christmas is a comedic snapshot of a well off African American family going through a hard time during the hardest time of year for loss, and it gives us some jokes and laughs along the way.
Director: David E. Talbert
Writer: David E. Talbert
Stars: Kimberly Elise, Omar Epps, Danny Glover