Genre: Comedy, Drama
Directed by: David E. Talbert
Starring: Kimberly Elise, Omar Epps, Danny Glover, Mo’Nique
It’s the most wonderful time of the year and you know what that means? Another obligatory family Christmas film and this year we’ve been offered David E. Talbert’s comedy-drama, Almost Christmas. In this festive feature we follow the Meyers family, starring Danny Glover as Walter – the father of the four Meyers siblings – who has recently lost his wife and now has to adjust to the fact that this will be the first family Christmas without her. So Walter tries his best to make this Christmas special for the family but will his children be able to do the same?
The four Meyers siblings include eldest daughter and dentist Cheryl (Kimberly Elise), and politician and aspiring congressman, Christian (Romany Malco). Youngest daughter Rachel (Gabrielle Union) is studying to become a lawyer but is struggling to support her daughter after a divorce. Last but not least is the baby of the family, Evan (Jessie T. Usher), a successful football player who also has his own struggles with recovering from a shoulder injury and grieving over the death of his mother.
There is some tension between the siblings, especially Cheryl and Rachel, who continuously bicker between one and another; with Cheryl throwing dabs at Rachel’s divorce and indecisive career path. Rachel does the same by insulting her sister’s marriage to former basketball player and over all player, Lonnie, played by comedian J.B. Smoove. Another family member joining the Meyers for Christmas is Aunt May, played by comedian and Oscar-winning actress Mo’Nique, the comic relief of the film along with Lonnie who brings plenty of laughs – although some jokes fall flat.The cast dynamic is great as some of these actors have worked together in previous productions and it’s clear to see that the chemistry is still there. Danny Glover gives a good performance as a father trying his best to make the most of an unfortunate situation, only wishing his children would do the same. Out of the siblings, we see Walter have more conflict with his two boys, as Christian is conflicted between his family’s beliefs in helping people and his political career. Meanwhile, Evan’s conflict with his father stems from the fact that Walter wants to sell the family home, which causes Evan to spiral out of control.
If only there were scenes like this between Walter and his daughters but the two women have issues of their own to deal with, many of which are resolved a little too easily. There are some beautiful scenes in this film, mainly involving Glover as he has flashbacks of his wife and tries to make her famous sweet potato pie himself, initially struggling but after a pep talk from his granddaughter, he’s finally able to bake the famous pie.
Reminiscent of other family films, Almost Christmas feels reluctant to step out of the box. However, it’s a heartfelt and sometimes cheesy festive movie, with plenty of laughter and sweet moments, even if it doesn’t bring anything new to the drawing board.