We're only a week away from Thanksgiving, and yet most people seem to
be planning their holiday season before they even think about turkey.
While I wish that the November holiday got a little more attention, who
can blame people from wanting to bring in the magic of the Christmas
season? Our world is now dazzled in bright lights, red and green colors
all over, and a chance to better relationships. Something about life
seems warmer whether were selecting a tree or the living room, lighting
a new candle for Chanukah, or simply wishing someone a better new year.
For a lot of people, the holidays mean having to visit family. I think
it's safe to say that no matter who we love, there is at least one
person in your family that you'd rather not speak to on a daily basis.
So why do we put a lot of focus on our family gatherings if we know
that things won't change? I think it's a matter of both keeping
tradition, but of also gratefulness. The odd feeling with family is at
least some feeling as we could be in a position without any loved ones
(like how some people are unfortunately in that position). One family
in Almost Christmas deals with a father trying to bring his kids
together without drama.
In Atlanta, Georgia, the Meyers family seems to be a nice crew of
people to be with around the holidays. The patriarch, Walter (played by
Danny Glover) is a retried mechanic who has let his wife Grace handle
the majority of the meal planning while letting their four children run
amok. Tragically, Grace dies from an unspecified heart condition,
making Walter question just how he can handle his old home and keeping
his adult children together.
First to arrive is his eldest daughter Charyl (played by Kimberly
Elise) who is a dentist and has brought her husband former basketball
star Lonnie (played by J.B. Smoove) and their daughter. Next is eldest
son Malachi (played by Romany Malco) who is trying to spend time with
his family while running for congress. Then we have youngest daughter
Cheryl (played by Kimberly Elise), whose seems to be in between jobs
while raining her daughter. Finally we have youngest son Evan (played
by Jessie Usher) who is a football star at his college. Oh, and Grace's
sister aunt May (played by Mo'Nique) Can Walter manage to keep the
family at peace in his first Christmas without his wife?
The trouble with trying to get out a good Christmas movie (and I LOVE
Christmas films) is all about creating realistic conflict that we can
relate to and why the holidays are a good time to resolve them. Almost
Christmas plays off like a lot of those television movies on Hallmark,
which usually means that their never great. This is defiantly no
Christmas Vacation, Home Alone, or Elf, but this is far from even the
worst. The movie has its moments where it's drama seems genuine,
especially whenever it focuses on Danny Glover and his children.
While I'd like to follow Glover, the rest of the family doesn't have
much interesting. I don't blame it on the actors, but the script gives
them cliché moments like the cheating husband, the father that works
too hard, or the grief of loosing a mother. I don't have a problem with
any of this, but Almost Christmas doesn't find any new ways to tell
that story. As I said, actors like Danny Glover, Mo'Nique, and J.B.
Smoove did get a laugh out of me and are enough to keep the movie going
when it needs to.
I'll give this five sweet potato pies out of ten. At it's worst, its
boring. But at it's best, it's inoffensive. As far as Christmas movies
goes, I could easily see this playing on a Sunday afternoon on Hallmark
or TNT. Those that aren't bothered by tired story elements will
probably find this one passable. I doubt I'll spend more time with the
Meyers family, but don't see any reason for other people to join them.