This was the sweetest little movie, a warm holiday flick that touted the virtues of family without coming across corny or hokey. This Cristmas is the second recent ensemble movie featuring a primarily Black cast, the first being Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married? There aren’t any more similarities between the two movies, and what made This Christmas so enjoyable was that it was not contrived or forced; it was just a depiction of family life to which most people can relate, regardless of ethnicity. No family is perfect, but it’s those imperfections that make us human, and what would any holiday be without a little family drama anyway?
The movie centers on the Whitfield family, a middle-class clan whose members reunite every year for Christmas. Matriarch “Ma’Dere” (Loretta Devine, Crash) plays peacemaker to her six children, three boys and three girls. Her children are eldest son Quentin (Idris Elba, American Gangster), middle son Claude (Columbus Short, Stomp the Yard), youngest son “Baby” (Chris Brown, Stomp the Yard), and daughters Kelli (Sharon Leal, Why Did I Get Married?), Lisa (Regina King, Miss Congeniality 2), and Mel (Lauren London, ATL). Her long-time live-in boyfriend and surrogate father to the kids is Joe, played by Delroy Lindo (Clockers). Tension arises and mounts when the children discover that Baby has been keeping a secret from Ma’Dere, something that would barely raise an eyebrow in a typical family, but is a major cause of concern for Ma’Dere due to the fact that her husband abandoned their family many years ago to pursue his musical aspirations. As she puts it, “certain men just don’t need to be married.” Word, I hear you, LOL. Baby’s not the only one keeping a secret, however – and when the collective cats are out of the bag, this Christmas won’t soon be forgotten. Some plot fixtures are predictable, like the fact that one of the girls’ mates is a scumbag, and one of them can’t cook. We’ve seen and heard it before, but that’s okay because the cast and movie is so endearing. Just because you know what you’re getting doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it, right? That’s how I looked at it. Of course all’s well that end’s well, but the fun is in getting there, and I think you’ll be entertained throughout. This movie doesn’t present the Whitfields as picture perfect, so when the positive aspects of various characters are displayed, it doesn’t seem unrealistic.
Though not quite as good, This Christmas is the best family drama/comedy since Soul Food, and definitely worth seeing during the holiday season.