Well… I guess they can’t all be MOONLIGHT (2016).
There’s some names on here that I really enjoy seeing. Danny Glover (DIRTY GRANDPA , 2012 , and ANGELS IN THE OUTFIELD ), J.B. Smoove (BARBERSHOP: THE NEXT CUT , WE BOUGHT A ZOO , and an episode of the TV show CASTLE), Gabrielle Union (THE BIRTH OF A NATION , BRING IT ON , and 10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU ), and John Michael Higgins (both Pitch Perfect films, and TV shows HAPPILY DIVORCED and KATH & KIM). But… I can just tell this movie isn’t going to be enjoyable for me. None of the jokes in the trailer are landing for me and looks like a standard Christmas comedy: big cast of characters that don’t get along.
So… I guess I just went through some of the cast, let’s head into the crew. Writing and directing is David E. Talbert, known for BAGGAGE CLAIM (2013) and FIRST SUNDAY (2008). Composing the music is John Paesano, known for the Maze Runner films, SUPERMAN/BATMAN: APOCALPYSE (2010), and TV show DAREDEVIL. He will return for MAZE RUNNER: THE DEATH CURE (2018). Finally, the cinematographer is Larry Blanford, known for RIDE ALONG (2014), THINK LIKE A MAN (2012), and FANTASTIC 4: RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER (2007).
Yeah, not happily seeing this, but hopefully it’s not truly awful or annoying. This is my honest opinion of ALMOST CHRISTMAS.
The Meyers family is a big one, headed by the kindly and generous patriarch, Walter (Danny Glover). Unfortunately, the family recently suffered the tragedy of Walter losing his wife, and subsequently their children losing their mother. Although Walter manages to get all of his kids and their respective families under the same roof, not all of them get along very well. As Christmas gets closer, the family drama seems to get more intense. Spousal affairs, mixed up priorities, rekindling old flames, and secrets being kept from one another, keeping the family together for the holidays will be a lot harder than it seems.
Alright, let me just say that the start of the movie actually had me pretty roped in. It’s a montage of Walter’s life when he and his wife got married. They go through the family getting bigger, and the weight of how good her sweet potato pie is, all the sappy things you’d expect out of a “family” movie. This captures the happy-feelings of family togetherness during Christmas. It’s all closed off with the only quiet moment in the movie: a saddened Walter looking at a picture of his wife. Holy god, I was floored by how well this opening minute was. It was feel-good, it was sad, hell, it was damn near powerful. I suddenly felt like this movie Popstar’d me: it fooled me into thinking it’d suck, when in actuality, it’d be pretty good.
And then every fear I had started rearing it’s ugly head. So many characters were loud and annoying.
The first offender, to a lesser degree, was Mo’Nique’s character, Aunt May. First of all, seriously? Aunt May? Does she have a husband named Ben? A nephew named Peter? Has he been acting strange in his teen years? This movie couldn’t come up with a better name than Aunt May?! But fine, whatever. If that would have been my biggest problem with her, I’d be in a good place. But no, she’s that same black woman that’s in every black-dominant comedy. She’s loud! She’s outrageous! She’s foul-mouthed, but she’s sweet. She’s got attitude, but she’s wise. You know exactly what I’m talking about, and… it’s painful.
But she’s got nothing on Smoove’s character, Uncle Lonnie. Lonnie is a former sports athlete and he is more than proud to parade this fact. Specifically to younger and attractive women, even when his wife is nearby. Again, he thinks he’s some smoothe-talker, some kind of mega-charming gentleman, but every line that comes out of his mouth is something that ranges from unfunny to hair-pullingly frustrating. It’s a chore to sit through any scene with him, and I do not enjoy saying that. Smoove has been a funny actor in the past, he’s proven that, but his character is beyond annoying in this. A waste of such funny talent.
Thankfully, there is some counter-weight. Like, Glover’s character is pretty likable, as is Union’s character, Rachel. But… damn it, even she has poor character choices. Her subplot involves rekindling a relationship with her high school flame of TEN YEARS AGO. They haven’t spoken to each other since, they haven’t seen each other since, and yet as soon as their scene starts, you’d think their drama happened last week. Their relationship makes no sense. It’d be fine if they eased into the relationship, acknowledging that there is still something there, but that would require a lot of dedicated time that would not have been allowed in this film. Instead, all that development is replaced with sex visual sex innuendos that every low-brow comedy has. Fun fact, aspiring comedy writers, it’s not as funny as you might think.
From the way this started off, I wanted to like this. From some of the cast, I really wanted to like this. But with so many needlessly high-stakes subplots and annoying characters, what few good elements there are don’t balance out enough to make it very enjoyable. I say it’s not worth it, but if this is your thing, then have at it. Personally, I’ll stick to my superhero movies that have reliably smarter and better comedy.
My honest rating for ALMOST CHRISTMAS: a weak 3/5
Wham, bam, thank you, ma’am. That’s all for this week, kids. But the holidays aren’t done yet and the next coming weeks are going to be damn exciting.
- FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM
- THE EDGE OF SEVENTEEN
- BLEED FOR THIS
- NOCTURNAL ANIMALS
- MANCHESTER BY THE SEA