There was a good amount of simple fun in this holiday comedy.
“Almost Christmas” is directed by David E. Talbert and features an ensemble cast headlined by; Danny Glover, Mo’Nique, Gabrielle Union and Omar Epps. This is a simple formulaic comedy about a dysfunctional family who all come back to the family home for the first Christmas since the passing of their mother.
Now this was a very simple film, simple in both its premise and its level of creativity but I did enjoy it. I was hoping for a relatively lighthearted, feel-good holiday movie, and for the most part this one succeeded. It wasn’t amazing and I’m not sure it will make the yearly holiday watch list, but there was some fun in this one with many more laughs, and effectively heartwarming moments, than I was expecting.
The dialogue and scenarios are all very generic. The story-arcs, which there are a handful of are all very simple, recycled, and thin in substance, but it didn’t hinder the laughs. Mostly due to the performances from the cast which took common material and boosted it up with some charismatic performances. The cast helps ease the predictability of the story-line, plus some hilarious lines and moments slipped in here and there, make it enjoyable.
Mo’Nique was the shining star of this film to me. Her portrayal alone of Aunt May was comical in its own right, but her delivery and energy created multiple laughs and she easily took the spotlight in each of her scenes. Danny Glover was also very good, you can feel his pain of spending the first Christmas without his wife, while at the same time dealing with the family grumblings. His frustrations were comical when needed, and with his performance you get hit in the heart a few times as well. Gabrielle Union was also solid and she helped create some comical moments in her dynamics with the other characters and her hard-headed personality.
While this was an entertaining film it was just overly unambitious, and clearly saved by the cast performances. The pace also slows a bit in the third-act as all the various story-arcs have to wrap themselves up, but it was not a horrible film by any means. It’s just a little forgettable other than a couple hilarious lines here and there. The theme of Christmas was fun when it was in the film, but there were long segments where the holiday vibe was all but forgotten, then just injected back in again here and there.
I personally enjoyed this film, I laughed a lot more than I was expecting, and actually felt pulled in to some of the more emotional scenes as well. Like I said, I think the cast saved this film and had the story been a little more creative in its direction, and maybe captured the holiday feel a little more effectively, it could have been much better. But still it created some laughable scenarios, and we can all relate to some of the family dynamics in this story in one way or another.
Time: 111 min
MPAA Rating: PG-13 (For suggestive material, drug content and language)