Thursday, December 8, 2016

Almost Christmas Review

Almost Christmas Review
What is it about the Christmas comedy that always leads to films about dysfunctional families?

I mean, yes its the time of year when we are getting together with family, whether we want to or not. My dad always said that you can choose your friends, but you can't choose your family and over the course of my life, I have learned that both the easy way and the hard way. There is nothing that brings out the best and worst of a family than a holiday. Christmas in particular simply reeks of it. 

But when does the Christmas comedy slide into familiarity? At this rate, we have see so many variations of the same storyline that it feels like the Christmas comedy feels obsolete. I mean, even my favorite Christmas comedy, "Christmas Vacation," is simply the adventure and celebration of the Christmas holiday by a dysfunctional family. Year after year when these movies get made, they all feel the same. Family gets together. Slapstick events happen. Family learns something about the family. Family comes together and learns the meaning of Christmas. Done. Rinse. Repeat. Its getting to the point were its almost too generic.

"Almost Christmas" is that typical, carbon copy Christmas movie. For many years, Walter Meyer (Danny Glover) wife cooked and got everybody for Christmas. But recently, Walter's wife passed away. Now its  up to Walter to get his four children together for the Christmas celebration and its going to be hard getting everything planned. Rachel (Gabrielle Union) and Cheryl (Kimberly Elise) are Walter's daughters who are constantly at odds with each other. His two sons, Christian (Romany Malco) and Evan (Jessie Usher) are so preoccupied by their occupations that they are missing the holiday. Of course, these various storylines are laced with comedy. But...ALSO, Walter is harboring a secret that will change the families lives, and he's patiently waiting on when to display that information.

The whole movie is telegraphed from the start. We know Rachel and Cheryl could love each other more, but we know they will come around by the end of the movie. We know Evan and Christian are too involved in their work, but we know they will learn the meaning of family through this particular holiday. It may seem like I have spoiled this movie, but I really haven't. We have seen so much of this formula that it doesn't stick. "Almost Christmas" doesn't bring anything innovative to the table, so it will go unmemorable.

Worse yet, the film just isn't funny.

There are a few good points. Danny Glover is a charming actor, and nothing can withstand the charm and wit of Glover. I think Union, Elise, Malco and Usher do what they can, but the script lets their characters and talents down in major ways. Its so painfully familiar that I wonder what the point of all it was.


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