I have never been a big fan of Christmas comedies. To me, I put them a notch or two below slasher films.
However, that’s not entirely the case with “Almost Christmas” although there are plenty of yuletide faults to be had.
Danny Glover stars as Walter Meyers, a widowed family patriarch, living in Birmingham who’s trying to organize his yearly Christmas get-together with his family. His hope for them to spend five days in his house without anything going wrong.
Gabrielle Union and Kimberly Elise costar as his daughters and Romany Malco and Jessie Usher are his sons.
Oscar-winner Mo’Nique costars as the family aunt who concocts some strange Christmas delicacies and the family tries to play nice by reluctantly devouring her food, but in the end, they’d rather order pizza. Mo’Nique does earn some good comedic chops and she’s much funnier than anything Tyler Perry’s Madea has accomplished in an entire film.
Other plot elements involve Malco’s congressional campaign, as well a love triangle of sorts between one of the married couples and a girl working as a cashier in a grocery store. Often, it feels contrived and predictable, but it does end with a finale that earns big laughs.
These performances deserve a better genre. Glover and Mo’Nique are truly the only anchors here and while the others in the cast do what they can, the plot is dead in the water. Any attempts at comedy by the supporting cast usually fall flat and other times it’s knee-deep in fortune cookie philosophy about the ideals of family and togetherness that could’ve been borrowed from a dozen other Christmas comedies.
“Almost Christmas” isn’t nearly the disaster that “Love, the Coopers” was a year ago, but I don’t foresee anyone wanting to warrant repeat viewings of this around the holidays either.
Rated PG-13 for suggestive material, drug content and language.
Hall is a syndicated columnist in South Georgia.