HOLLYWOOD—When I first heard about the movie “Almost Christmas,” it echoed sentiment of a 2007 comedy with a similar title, “This Christmas.” The premise very similar for both comedies, a family that has been distant comes together to celebrate the holidays in the midst of a death, family secrets and tons of funny along the way.
So is “Almost Christmas” a must-see? Absolutely! While the narratives might seem similar for both flicks, this movie reminds the audience just how important family is, but finds a way to use comedy as a catalyst to ensure even in the saddest times there are still plenty of things to be thankful for.
The narrative is relatable to all Americans; dealing with family members during the holidays that one is not too fond of. At the middle of this chaos is Walter Meyers (Donald Glover), who is the patriarch of the family, who gets his abode together to celebrate Christmas after the death of his wife. His children Cheryl (Kimberley Elise), Rachel (Gabrielle Union), Evan (Jessie Usher) and Christian (Romany Malco) are the epitome of sibling rivalry; they don’t mesh well most of the time, especially when they’re forced to spend nearly a week together in the confines of their childhood home.
Cheryl, being the eldest of the bunch waves her status as a doctor to the rest of her siblings, even though she can’t cook a dish if her life depended on it. She has another issue on her hands which involves her cheating husband, Lonnie (J.B. Smoove) who has been secretly canoodling with grocery store clerk Jasmine (Keri Hilson). That dynamic is indeed responsible for delivering a lot of laughs in several scenes in the movie, especially during dinner time and Aunt May (Mo’Nique).
I have to admit actress Mo’Nique was the highlight of this movie for me; her comedic timing and ability to have effortless chemistry with the entire cast is important. When it comes to comedy the ability to land a joke or be the butt of a joke without things appearing forced is no easy task. Mo’Nique proves that while she hasn’t appeared in a comedy in quite some time, she still knows how to make the audience laugh, rather that involves getting hit on by a young adult, dosed with a fire extinguisher or singing a song in boozy fashion while drunk, her talent gives the flick an edge in my opinion.
We have the ongoing flirtmance between Rachel and Malachi (Omar Epps), former flames who reunite after her divorce. There is indeed a hilarious window moment that has already been teased in the TV spots and movie trailers, but it still proves to be funny for the respective movie audience. “Almost Christmas” does seem quite familiar, so it loses points on the originality element, but its level of heart and theme of family is so poignant it’s a remainder to all Americans that at the core of all squabbles is family and there is nothing more important than family, no matter how much you love or hate them.