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Tuesday, 18 December 2018

Movie Review: Almost Christmas (2016)

Almost Christmas
Cast: Danny Glover, Kimberly Elise, Mo'Nique, Nicole Ari Parker, Gabrielle Union, Keri Hilson, Jessie Usher, Omar Epps
Genre: Comedy Drama
Worldwide Box Office Gross: $42 million

Plot: A dysfunctional family gathers together for their first Christmas since their mother died

'Without The Decent Cast Performances, This Would Be A Complete Turkey'

Set in Birmingham, Alabama, Almost Christmas is a home for the holidays-type of festive fare where family members come and gather together to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year and to laugh and be merry.

It's a typical and conventional dysfunctional family comedy, in a similar-ish mode to Cheaper By The Dozen, with a few larger-than-life characters, who argue, fight, get back together in the end and all is well. Throw in some family drama and revelations that are sure to stir the pot, get tongues wagging & some slapstick, and Bob's your uncle. 

Walter is a widower still grieving over the death of his beloved wife, Grace; unknownst to the rest of the family, he is about to sell the house that has been their home for many years. Other family subplots include two bickering daughters, Cheryl and Rachel sniping at each other, back and forth, Eric is a college American football player who is nursing a shoulder injury, as well as taking painkillers, an aspiring politician, Christian & his wife, Sonya. Not to mention, May, played by comedienne, Mo'Nique: a former backup singer, who isn't afraid to tell it as it is. There are a few other characters played by Omar Epps as Rachel's former childhood sweetheart and singer, Keri Hilson as a supermarket clerk. The cast is uniformly good in other projects and there are several faces that I recognise: Danny Glover, Mo'Nique, Gabrielle Union, Kimberly Elise of whom have all done better, elsewhere. 

I enjoyed the first hour of the film, but as it went on, the story went wayward and it seems the writer didn't develop the characters well enough, so much so, it felt like I didn't learn so much about each of them. 

Almost Christmas tries to mix comedy with emotional pathos; however, this combination produces mixed results with its uneven balance and story, which becomes convoluted and meandering and loses its way and slapstick comedy scenes which, at times, doesn't work. One of them involving Gabrielle Union's Rachel finding herself stuck through a window. I did smile, however, when Danny Glover muttered, ''I'm too old for this s**t'', his famous line from Lethal Weapon. Which brought back memories. 

But right after the dinner table scene, it subsided and it kind of went downwards, and when it tries to redeem itself and tie up all loose ends with each of the characters' individual subplots, it was a little too late. 

Final Verdict:

I so wanted to love this one, especially as the film has a good cast, but they deserved far better material. At best Almost Christmas is a modest showing, but sadly, nothing more. 


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