The miseltoe hangs high for This Christmas
by Ma’at Atkins
There has always been a genre for family films during the Christmas season. From “It’s A Wonderful Life” to “The Family Stone,” holiday family films have always struck a chord with its purpose of having fuzzy moments mixed with family conflict.
Well that trend has seemed to have caught on (the first being 1996's "The Preacher's Wife") in the African American film genre with the Screen Gems comedy drama “This Christmas” that opened at the Box Office last weekend (taking the No. 2 spot debuting to $18M and $26.3M over the five-day period of over 20 million tickets sold when it opened last Wednesday).
Directed and written by Preston A. Whitmore II, “Christmas”, like all other family films, stems around a family (The Whitfields) who get together for Christmas in sunny Los Angeles for the first time in four years, with inevitable problems ensuing amongst the brood.
“Christmas”, that was executive produced by Mehki Phifer (who makes an enlightening cameo in the film), deals with the main conflict of MuDear (played to a T by Loretta Devine)and her who has move din her long-time boyfriend (played by Delroy Lindo) and trying to hide the fact to her eldest son (played by Idris Elba), who’s hiding the fact that he is a habitual gambler in Chi-Town and flees back home to avoid paying a major debt to some hoodlum loan sharks.
Other family drama includes Eldest sister, Kelli (played by Sharon Leal) , a successful ad rep in NYC) and her manless life, and the brewing sibling rivalry with her next to age sister, Lisa (played by Regina King who has two of the highlighted scenes in regards to her husband indirectly and directly)) who is the business heir to the family dry cleaners and has the husband and kids white picket fence life. As well as next to youngest sibling, Claude (played by Columbus Short) , an Marine in Iraq, who comes home through inconspicuous terms, discreetly marries a white woman and fears the reaction of Mudear.
The rest of the film deals with how the Whitfields resolve their problems.
The film however does have its flaws. The main conflict with Mu Dear’s secret is a bit farfetched, some of the characters in the film could have been omitted because of plot significance (i.e. Lauren London and Keith Robinson’s) or non-explaination (the Hispanic maid played by Lupe Ontiveros) and Short’s character’s storyline of hiding the white woman from Ma Dear is a bit passé in the Guess Who’s Coming-to Dinner-ethos.
Nonetheless, the acting is solid namely Devine’s, King’s and newcomer R&B sensation Chris Brown who has two musical highlights in the film, the pace is even and storytelling is intelligent.
The sewing of all these elements makes this film an entertaining pastiche of family love—and, like “It’s A Wonderful Life”(and to a lesser degree, “The Preacher’s Wife”) , will be playing on television during the Christmas season for years to come.
PS. Don’t get out of your seat until the very end of the film!
The film is rated PG-13 for comic sexual content and some violence.
I give it 3 stars out of four.
EVENT SPOTLIGHT. After checking out the flick last Saturday at the Esquire, I checked out the Mizzou/Kansas City game via plasma TV at 609 with some buddies and fellow onlookers. After 609, I got a text about Dj Enoch and Needles spinnin at Urban in South St. Louis (on Grand and Wyoming). So me and two of the 609 brood decided to check out the spot. It woudl be my firts time rollin through therre. When I got there it was like a teenie yet jumpin house party with a bar(one side bar, the other side a den-size dance space with sofas and upstairs was whatever was going on up therre) . When I got to the den-size area, master drummer Dhati Kennedy and his African inspired percussionist group Ngoma drummed up the spirits as DJ Nappy Needles spun some hip-hop beats to it.
As time progressed, and a few Long Islands and Crown Royals in between me and the two buddies I was with we turned out the mutha as though tomorrow wasnt going to happen. DJ Enoch took over the 1s and 2s and played James Brown inspired funk tunes. Yours truly was feelin it so that I stood up on one of the stools to get a clear view of the dancing folk as they got their party on( I even got rubbed on by one of the sistes who was standing in front of me doin her best Tyra Banks-slidin-down the-pole routine).
When the last song played (which was Musical Youth's "Pass the Dutchie"), the folk were begging for one more song, but it was time to shut down the party machine at 1:30 a.m., but people still wanted to party(including us 3). Well, the one buddy I was with recommnded a bar and club up the street that staye dopen til 3 a.m. and me, him and the other buddy decided to roll up therre.
I felt as though I was at a club in NYC where the music was housed, housed housed and the crowd was dancing ever so freely!
Where is this spot you say? I will never tell. If I do, then errrrrrrrrrrrrrbody who's a STL star will try and crowd up in therre and will won't be not making it the best kept hangout in the South side.