Almost Christmas Movie Review
Almost Christmas Movie Review Metadata
As I declare over on our About Us page, I LOVE Christmas movies! All the way from The Night They Saved Christmas (1984) (LSD meets North Pole City!) to my hands-down favorite, National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation (1989), I haven’t yet met a Christmas movie I don’t love. Christmas carols? Yes please! Family get-togethers? Bring ’em on! Equal parts tinsel-draped hilarity and misery? Love it!
So it goes without saying that I was very excited for Almost Christmas; I always need a new holiday movie in my lineup!
Embattled family patriarch Walter (Danny Glover, Dirty Grandpa (2016)) is eagerly looking forward to his family coming home for the holidays, even as he struggles with the recent loss of his beloved wife. He still volunteers regularly at a local homeless shelter and is contemplating selling the enormous (and echoing) family home to help him move on.
As the relatives arrive, stress cracks start to show in the family dynamic. Daughters Cheryl (Kimberly Elise, VH1’s Hit the Floor) and Rachel (Gabrielle Union, Birth of a Nation (2016), BET’s Being Mary Jane) still get along like a cat and a dog, older son Christian (Romany Malco, STARZ’s Blunt Talk, When the Bough Breaks (2016)) is busy campaigning for Congress while younger son Evan (Jessie Usher, Independence Day: Resurgence (2016)) has, in a somewhat jarring note, become hooked on painkillers after a football injury. Add in assorted spouses, children and the diva-esque Aunt May (Mo’Nique, Interwoven (2015), Precious (2009)) and you have the requisite fruitcake, filled with nuts.
Even as they squabble, the siblings are also mourning the loss of their mother, a woman whose magic in the kitchen was rivaled only by her ability to make a Pinterest-level holiday look effortless. Walter is trying to replicate the magic (embodied by a sweet potato pie), but can’t quite make it work. The various side-plots culminate at Christmas dinner as Cheryl chases her clueless husband with a shotgun, but in the end the pie is delicious and memories of their mother from holidays past pull the family together again.
We don’t necessarily hold holiday movies to the same standard as other movies; they’re often sugary-sweet or patently ridiculous, but we’re watching them for the entertainment value! So it is with Almost Christmas: there’s the requisite spur-of-the-moment dance scene, the slapstick physical comedy, the bawdy jokes and the inevitable happy ending. The movie hits pause on the fun at odd moments to have a moment of reflection for the dead matriarch and the climax with Evan sticks out awkwardly before quickly resolving itself. Mo’Nique’s Aunt May always delivers the sassy broad lines while pounding back another drink. Infidelity is actual infidelity, not a misunderstanding. The kids are Snapchatting all the chaos. The sum of all the parts is definitely entertaining, but taken one at a time, they’re pretty eye-rolling.
On the plus side, this is what I like to call a comfort movie (always best enjoyed with some comfort food)…there is never any doubt that all crises will be averted and arguments will be resolved. Despite a few dirty jokes, it’s pretty safe to take older kids to or have playing in the background for future holiday family gatherings. Danny Glover even gets to deliver his trademark “I’m getting too old for this…” line, which we’re all probably saying about the holidays by the time an unwelcome guest crashes the party.
The best part, though, is that the laughs are reliable and the warm glow you get at the end makes this a flawed but no less satisfying film to keep on your shelf of holiday movie go-to’s. I can’t quite call Almost Christmas a “classic,” but it certainly earns all its laughs after an eggnog or three.