Almost Christmas is a holiday treat your family will want to enjoy again and again. It hits all the right notes with a good blend of laughter and heart-warming family story. At times the audience was laughing so loud at the antics of Mo’Nique, you could not hear the movie, it was just that good.
Walter (Danny Glover) is adjusting to life without his queen following the death of his beloved wife. Now he is facing the prospect of his first family Christmas without her, which with four very independent grown children is a quite an undertaking, throw in spouses and grandkids and the house is bursting at the seams. Now you know everyone, of course, does not play well together.
First, the two sisters, Rachel (Gabrielle Union) and Cheryl (Kimberly Elise), are virtually sworn enemies, and they have a take no prisoners approach to their battles. Add to the mix a husband with a wandering eye (J.B. Smoove) and the sisterly relationship is on a collision course for disaster.
Then the two sons, while they can get along together ok are so far apart in age and mindset, don’t have a lot in common. Christian (Romany Malco) is running for Congress and certainly won’t let a little thing like Christmas get in the way of schmoozing with potential donors. Evan (Jessie T. Usher), the accident baby that many of us have in our families, is a rising college football star, but is missing mama leading him to make some bad decisions?
The grandchildren are too much. The two older kids are nerdy, but hilarious without being smart aleck. Rachel’s daughter Niya (Nadej Kyla Bailey) is rather wise for her age. Cameron (lkoya Brunson) may love books more than sports, but he has a good heart, although perhaps a weak stomach. Like all kids today these two are attached to their tech toys and are not above spying on the grown-ups via a hidden cell phone. But you cannot have a Christmas story without a sweet little angel face little girl that steals every scene she is in. For Almost Christmas, the perfect fit for youngest grandchild Dee is Marley Taylor.
J.B. Smoove as Cheryl’s husband and was a standout in the otherwise disappointing Barbershop 3 earlier this year. His skill as a standup comic is on display. Omar Epps in a role that will remind you of the character he played in Love and Basketball is quite the leading man once again.
But the one who brings every single scene she is in – whether on screen or not – is Mo’Nique. As Walter’s sister-in-law, Aunt May to the family, she tries to help fill her sister’s shoes in keeping the family together. But it is pretty clear the two sisters were very different women. Unlike her angelic sister who devoted her life to family, church, and the homeless shelter. May traveled the world as a back-up singer and she never fails to reference every tour. She cannot cook anything someone would want to eat, and her language is better suited for a bar than a church. Bottomline she is hilarious.
Often movies of this type suffer because they try too hard. Almost Christmas does not suffer that fate. It is a movie you will enjoy this holiday season, and look forward to watching again and again.