Projections - Movie Reviews
With Jim Sabatini

Almost Christmas

Almost Christmas
Danny Glover, Gabrielle Union, Jessie T. Usher, Omar Epps, J.B. Smoove, Romany Maico, Kimberly Elise, John Michael Higgins and Mo'Nique

Rated: PG-13 for suggestive material, drug content and language.
Reviewed by: Frank  
Release date: November 11, 2016 Released by: Universal Studios, Inc.

Films about gathering of family members at the holidays fill  Christmas socks.  Most have the same theme, families care about each other but many issues which have festered for years pop up during the happy season ruining the celebrations.  Almost Christmas follows that formula, but with Danny Glover as the patriarch and his sister in law played by Mo'Nique there is some joy in the five day gathering for Christmas. 

The holiday periods in family life, mark measurements in the changes with occur in the path of the members.  Almost Christmas begins back in 1971 when Glover marries and a quick history follows nearly each year up to 2015 the year his wife passes on.  His goal for 2015 is to continue the atmosphere which existed when mom was on the scene.  In some ways the script deals with the fact that mothers keep families together particularly at the festive seasons of the year.  

So five days before Christmas the gang arrives to spend the season with good old dad.  The kids are doing pretty well.  One is running for Congress, one is studying law, the youngest son is playing serious football, and one is successful but her husband has a wandering eye.  It looks good on paper, but there are cracks in the family relationships.  Some comical from childhood others are the stinging jabs at the weaknesses or problems one or another sibling has to carry. 

One strange factor is the urgency faced by Romany Maico's campaign for congress, he and his campaign manager John Michael Higgins are pushing as if answers must be decided immediately.  It's December, the next election is in November of the next year the anxious season is eleven months away in the next year.

Next door neighbor Omar Epps has eyes for Gabrielle Union but she is gun shy about relationships.  He never gives up and his mother yelling form the house next door sounds like a character from The Big Bang Theory TV show.  These two provide a romantic Christmas night late in the film.  The cheater gets caught and the memory of mom hangs in the air.  

Major issues facing the family revolve around the thought of Glover selling the house, keeping the shelter that mom worked in, alive and finding the receipt list that was used each year by mom to make the family feast.  Glover constantly attempts to create the rich traditional food but fails without the lost notes.  It is the success of pie from the notes that fold the family back together and bring a smile to Glover's face. 

As expected, in the end all is right as rain and as the music comes up we see all the family members around the dinner table as the camera floats past the picture of Glover and his wife, almost like the ending of Moonstruck which depicts the strength of siblings in life, no matter what happens.  

  Frank Chris Jim Dave Nina Matt Howard Jennifer Kathleen  Avg. 
Almost Christmas  B      C-   C                  C+ 

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