Almost Christmas is one of the best Christmas movies I have seen in many years. While not completely perfect, it had both me and my husband in stitches. It also made me tear up over a few scenes which means it was a successful movie and highly entertaining.
Walter Meyers (Danny Glover) is an automotive engineer who lost the love of his life a year ago. Now that Christmas is here, he invites his four grown children and their families to come home to celebrate along with his sister in law, May (Mo’Nique). He knows if he can get his daughters, Cheryl (Kimberly Elise) and Rachel (Gabrielle Union) and sons Christian (Romany Malco) and Evan (Jessie Usher) to spend five days under the same roof, it will be a Christmas miracle. He also doesn’t tell his family about his intention to sell the house after this one last gathering.
The eldest daughter Cheryl, a successful dentist, brings her husband Lonnie (J.B. Smoothes) with her. The youngest daughter Rachel has her daughter Niya (Nadej k Bailey) in tow. Rachel is struggling to continue law school and take care of her daughter after her divorce. The eldest son Christian is in the middle of a campaign for Congress so he arrives with his family, wife Sonya (Nicole Ari Parker), his son Cameron (Alkoya Brunson), daughter Lucy (Tara Jones) and his campaign manager Brooks (John Michael Higgins). The youngest son Evan gets cleared to play football by his coach after an injury but brings home a bottle of pills and an inability to accept his mother’s death.
The family arrives and almost immediately a fight breaks out. But Aunt May’s intervention gets them to stop squabbling long enough to allow them to unpack. The movie takes place over the next five days with Walter attempting to recreate his wife’s sweet potato pie for his family while around him his children connect with each other, share their memories of their mother, and deal with their grief over her loss. A recurring theme revolves around the shelter that his wife, Grace supported and which is threatened by developers. And in addition to the connection of the family, we get to see youngest daughter Rachel re-connect with an old flame, Malachi (Omar Epps) while her older sister deals with drama surrounding her husband Lonnie.
The entire cast is spot on hilarious. The chemistry between this cast is obvious and it is excellent. Not only did the writer David E. Talbert do a brilliant job of creating a dynamic script, he also directed this film, leading this cast to execute the jokes in this film almost flawlessly. Not only are the adults hysterically funny but the children also do a fantastic job of nailing their scenes. Every joke is set up perfectly and while you can see what is coming, that is part of the humor. The comedic beats are done so well that the audience was laughing almost the entire time.
Danny Glover dancing is priceless and he gets to utter his familiar line, “I’m too old for this.” Mo’Nique was feisty and fantastic as Aunt May. The children got to have some side-splitting scenes using technology and emojis in a way I haven’t seen before in a movie. Even better, the message of the movie didn’t get lost in the humor. It was touching how the family deals with their loss and supports each other. It is all about family and helping each other deal with a difficult time. And every character was a real person that I believed and connected to. And I ended up crying at the end.
The only flaws I can see are a few clichés. There are some risqué bits if you want to take the whole family to this movie. But while there was nothing new to this film, I didn’t notice any of that while I watched the film. I just laughed and laughed.
Almost Christmas is almost perfect. The audience was laughing so hard that we couldn’t hear all the lines and we didn’t care, we enjoyed ourselves that much. My husband said it was one of the best Christmas movies he’s seen. I believe that most people will connect with the message of family supporting each other through a loss. There are some truly beautiful moments throughout the film, leaving you feeling warm and happy. You most likely won’t want to take your younger children to this but if you want a highly entertaining, well executed comedy, I definitely recommend this one for the holiday season.
Rating: 4.5 stars
A new comedy from writer/director David E. Talbert (Baggage Claim) and producer Will Packer (Ride Along, Think Like a Man series, This Christmas), Almost Christmas tells the festive story of a beloved patriarch who asks his family for one gift this holiday season: to get along. If they can honor that wish and spend five days under the same roof without killing one another, it will be a Christmas miracle.
Cast: Kimberly Elise, Danny Glover, John Michael Higgins, Romany Malco, Mo’Nique, JB Smoove, Gabrielle Union, Omar Epps, Nicole Ari Parker, Jessie T. Usher, DC Young Fly
Written and Directed by: David E. Talbert