Holiday season movies are a time-honored tradition, but African American holiday season films exist in a genre of their own. From Malcolm Lee’s “The Best Man Holiday” to Preston A. Whitmore II’s “This Christmas,” the nuances of black life at the proverbial “most wonderful time of the year” have enraptured audiences for years. David E. Talbert’s latest entry “Almost Christmas” just might be the most satisfying entry in this genre to date.
Led by the ever-reliable Danny Glover as heartbroken family patriarch Walter Meyers, “Almost Christmas” benefits from a robust cast in tune with the material. Mo’Nique stars as Walter’s hilarious and outspoken sister-in-law May. Strong supporting work comes from Gabrielle Union, Kimberly Elise, Romany Malco, Nicole Ari Parker, J.B. Smoove, Omar Epps and Jessie T. Usher.
“Almost Christmas” follows the eclectic Meyers clan as they embark on their first Christmas since burying their beloved mother, Grace. The film opens in 1971, with nostalgic thoughts about a slice of sweet potato pie — and then glides forward in time, highlighting births and other significant moments, until we land in the present day. The dysfunctional family heads to their childhood home in Birmingham, Alabama to stay with their father, Walter, just five days before Christmas. Still grieving the loss of his wife, Walter is still determined to have a positive holiday experience. He even sets out to make his wife’s traditional sweet potato pie (which results in disaster) before his sons and daughters descend on him.
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