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Wednesday, 19 December 2018

Retro Review: The Perfect Holiday (2007)

The Perfect Holiday
Cast: Gabrielle Union, Morris Chestnut, Faizon Love, Charlie Murphy, Terrance Howard, Queen Latifah, Katt Williams
Genre: Romantic Comedy
U.S Box Office Gross: over $5 million 

Plot: A young girl turns to a department store Santa in the hopes that he will help find a new husband for her divorced mother

'Not Perfect, But Still A Surprisingly Decent Rom-Com'

Take any rom-com formula, you know boy meets girl, girl meets boy, replace the likes of Julia Roberts, Sandra Bullock, Jennifer Aniston, Matthew McConaghy, Hugh Grant with Black actors in Morris Chestnut and Gabrielle Union, sprinkle some festive cheer and an African-American feel and in The Perfect Holiday, you get a formulaic, predictable romantic comedy with the same narrative beats and structure.

The Rom-com is not a favourite genre of film for many people, I included - however, there are a few that turn heads for numerous reasons and where it is not sickly romantic, but at the same time there is some charm and watchability going for them. & The Perfect Holiday certainly has that, in my eyes. The opening credits have a Bewitched vibe to it with its animated intro, which I liked.

The story revolves around Ben: a would-be songwriter who works part-time at a department store as Santa during the holidays. A little girl approaches him and wants and wishes that for Christmas, a man would enter her mother's life and sweep her off her feet. Mother of three, Nancy and Ben meet each other several times and it isn't long that they fall in love. There is just one problem, however: Ben hasn't told her he is a songwriter. The film's subplot sees Nancy finding herself at loggerheads with her sleazy ex, J. Jizzy who is aiming to get custody of the kids, for his own publicity and to boost his TV show. 

Eddie Murphy's late brother, Charlie plays a pompous divorcee dad and hubby of Nancy's, & who is also a rapper in Jizzy. With the weaker links in Queen Latifah and Terrence Howard in equally wasted roles, whose characters involvement in the plot makes hardly any sense that the movie could have easily functioned without them. 

Surprisingly though, this film was actually an overly decent watch, which is further elevated by the turns of onscreen pairing, Union and Chestnut as the female protagonist and male love interest. Before that, they previously appeared opposite each other in the similarly Breakin' All The Rules and Two Can Play That Game: with the latter being a 2001 romantic offering, which didn't fare particularly well in the romantic department. Gabrielle Union has shown on numerous occasions that she can more than sink her teeth into romantic comedy fare in the likes of Two Can Play..., Think Like A Man that why she wasn't properly marketed and moulded as the Black Julia Roberts baffles me a little. With her charisma and range, besides Halle Berry, and of all the main strikingly Black actresses of the late 1990s and 2000s, I personally felt she should have been the next in line and that Union had the biggest potential out of the lot, which hasn't been fully tapped into when it comes to these types of movies. Her co-star, Morris Chestnut does well opposite Union and the pairing generate good chemistry.

Faizon Love also stars as the plus-size bumbling, but good-hearted sidekick of Chestnut's Ben, who acts as the film's comic relief and to provide some light-hearted joy to the proceedings. 

Final Verdict: 

In 2007's The Perfect Holiday, to me, this was certainly watchable and the leads in Gabrielle Union and Morris Chestnut provide some quality to boost it, although that doesn't mean it's terrific. That's not to say it is bad - far from it. I enjoyed this one a good deal.


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