Almost Christmas

For some of us, the holidays are a great time to not only gather with the loved ones, but to delight in the festive themed entertainment that the season has to offer – be it via songs/carols, television shows or films. And the new Will Packer (Ride Along, This Christmas) produced, David E. Talbert (Baggage Claim) written/directed ALMOST CHRISTMAS is a thoroughly enjoyable addition to the latter medium.

“Almost Christmas” tells the story of a widower named Walter Meyer (Danny Glover) who brings his four children – Rachel, Cheryl, Christian, and Evan – together at the family home for the first Christmas holiday since his wife’s passing. Knowing that there is some tension when the crew gathers, especially amongst Rachel (Gabrielle Union) and Cheryl (Kimberly Elise), Walter has hope that he can re-create the Christmas magic – via his late wife’s coveted recipes and a little help from his quick-witted sister-in law May (Monique) – that has previously filled his home.  What the patriarch doesn’t factor in are the discord and hidden secrets that almost destroy the chances everyone has of getting along during the five-day holiday break.

With an all-star cast that includes the aforementioned, as well as Romany Malco (Christian), JB Smoove (Cheryl’s husband Lonnie), Jessie T. Usher (Evan) and Omar Epps (as Rachel’s admirer Malachi), their chemistry worked well on-screen and gave off authentic, and comical, family dynamic. I do believe, however, that Nicole Ari Parker was really underused as Christian’s wife Sonya.

And the young people who portrayed the grandchildren – Nadej Bailey, Alkoya Brunson, and Marley Taylor – are adorbs and little comedic acting gems in the making. Also cool were the cameos from the legendary Gladys Knight and songbird Keri Hilson, who did a fine job as the unwitting, vixen Jasmine – a character that brings much drama, to say the least, to the Meyer’s home.

Although the film is a bit formulaic – the requisite fighting siblings, especially the rivaling sisters, the tragic undertone, the unrequited (maybe) love story – it is extremely entertaining, credited in part to Monique’s outrageous and spot-on humor. Yeah, she was given a script, but Mr. Talbert must’ve added, “Make it do what ‘YOU’ do!”

One thing I dislike doesn’t have as much to do with the movie, as it does the traditional Hollywood trope to cast curvy/heavier women as older characters. I would have very much enjoyed the hilarious and engaging Monique as one of Glover’s daughters – a la Kimberly Elise or Gabrielle Union – rather than his sister-in-law, whose character I estimated to be at least seven years younger than his. And who can forget the time the plus size beauty was cast as Countess Vaughn’s mother in “The Parkers,” when in reality she is only eleven years older than Vaughn.

Even with the predictability, a descriptor I also used in my review of Talbert’s “Baggage Claim,” the movie is engaging and fun – with vibes reminiscent of Soul Food, This Christmas and Best Man Holiday. Unlike “Baggage Claim,” which I believed was funny but mostly forgettable, I am looking forward to watching this film again, and adding it to my holiday film collection.

With a 1:52 minute running time, and a PG-13 rating, the movie is a solid comedic pick for the pre-teen and up audience at your next family gathering. ALMOST CHRISTMAS is out in theaters nationwide today, November 11.

Until next thought, Thomasena


  1. Aside from her role in Precious, Monique loves playing this sassy stereotypical characters. Movies like this are so predictable. I’m not surprised it has more negative reviews than positive on It will be soon forgotten after it’s in theatres. Just statin’ the truth. It’s too lowbrow.

    From: Music Movies Thoughts To: Sent: Friday, November 11, 2016 2:44 AM Subject: [New post] MMT Quick Review of ALMOST CHRISTMAS #yiv2520899449 a:hover {color:red;}#yiv2520899449 a {text-decoration:none;color:#0088cc;}#yiv2520899449 a.yiv2520899449primaryactionlink:link, #yiv2520899449 a.yiv2520899449primaryactionlink:visited {background-color:#2585B2;color:#fff;}#yiv2520899449 a.yiv2520899449primaryactionlink:hover, #yiv2520899449 a.yiv2520899449primaryactionlink:active {background-color:#11729E;color:#fff;}#yiv2520899449 | Thomasena Farrar posted: “For some of us, the holidays are a great time to not only gather with the loved ones, but to delight in the festive themed entertainment that the season has to offer – be it via songs/carols, television shows or films. And the new Will Packer (Ride Al” | |


    1. @thatmoviedude I don’t know Monique personally, so I cant say she loves it. I’m sure however, as most people in Hollywood do, she enjoys “working” and since there isn’t a plethora of roles offered to women like herself, you often see her in similar roles. My critique was about the age and plus size trope. Not sure what of your intent, but the “sassy” reference is often used as code for too loud or too black. This film, nor Monique’s performance which is tamer if you’re familiar with her work, is neither. The 75% fresh audience score is reflective of what I experienced during my viewing, and feedback from MMT advanced screeners. I’m also not surprised with the 41% rotten critics score. It’s universally themed comedy with a primarily AA cast.


  2. I’m just seeing your replies now but saying it’s common for a movie with an AA cast to get bad reviews is a bit of a cop-out. Movies such as Fences and Hidden Figures are getting nothing but praise from critics. But like I said, nobody remembers that Monique Christmas comedy. Some movies are just silly and forgetful.
    And saying someone is sassy can apply to any race. Let’s not make everything racial especially when race was not mentioned once in my original comment…


    1. I believe my comment said code for too loud “or” to black. I never said it’s common for an AA movie to get bad reviews. Reading is fundamental and comprehension is essential before trolling – neither Hidden Figures nor Fences is an universally themed comedy with a primarily AA cast. Please try it somewhere else. Maybe you live on the west coast, it’s after 12am here. Either way, too late for nonsense. Enjoy the rest of your weekend!


      1. No I live right in Philadelphia and have gone to screenings through your website. (In fact, jut last week I thanked you for sending out the list of award show dates.) I was simply giving feedback on one of your reviews. Disagreeing does not mean one is trolling.
        I reviewed movies for for 6 years and welcomed all kinds of feedback from those who read them. If you can’t handle someone giving an opinion on a movie you review which differs from yours and you’re going to refer to them as a troll then maybe you shouldn’t keep doing them. Just being honest. Have a nice weekend.


      2. And you’ve just lost a subscriber. It’s sad to resort to the race card and saying how hard it is for African American women to get good roles anytime someone says a movie isn’t good.
        While Moonlight and Fences are receiving all their accolades this year, try thinking about how Asians and Latinos almost never get any nominations at all. And yet no one complains about that every year.


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