Reviewed by: Taran Gingery
REVIEWS of other Christmas movies
|Featuring:||Dennis Albanese, Khail Bryant, Lydia A. Butler, Conor Carroll, Morris Chestnut, Carol Commissiong, Lisa Datz, Maria Ford, Dennis Funny, Brian Gilbert, Didi Gruenwald, Jeremy Gumbs, Malik Hammond, Dylan Hartigan, Terrence Howard, Jill Marie Jones, Pedro Kim, Queen Latifah, Faizon Love, Modi, Charles Q. Murphy, Gloria Parks, Zoe Portanova, Paul Thornton, Rachel True, Gabrielle Union, Amber Joy Williams, Katt Williams|
|Producer:||Queen Latifah, Shakim Compere, Leifur B. Dagfinnsson, Mike Elliott, Joseph P. Genier, Petra Hoebel, Stevie “Black” Lockett, Marvin Peart|
|Distributor:||Yari Film Group Releasing|
“This Christmas, the perfect man just happens to be Santa.”
Here’s what the distributor says about their film: “An African American take on the classic and beloved Christmas family film, ‘The Perfect Holiday’ tells the story of Nancy (Union), a divorced mother of three who is so busy raising her children that she’s forgotten to take care of herself as well. With Christmas fast approaching, she decides to take her kids to the mall to meet Santa Claus, not knowing that her youngest daughter Emily (Khail Bryant) has sensed her mother’s sadness and is determined to use her time with Santa to make her mom happy again. Just a few days prior, Emily heard her mom say that all she wanted for Christmas was a compliment from a man, so that’s exactly what she tells Santa. Ironically, Santa, as it turns out, is office supply salesman and struggling songwriter Benjamin (Chestnut), who ends up giving Nancy just what she wants for Christmas, and much, much more.”
A “perfect holiday” is described as one spent with the entire family happily wrapped up together. For our main characters Nancy and Benjamin, though, that sort of holiday doesn’t seem likely. Nancy (Gabrielle Union) is a divorced mother of three fighting for the custody of her kids over the Christmas holidays. Benjamin (Morris Chestnut) is an aspiring songwriter stuck in a job as a mall Santa when he dreams lie elsewhere. So, when Nancy’s daughter, while sitting on Santa’s lap, doesn’t ask for a toy, but for someone more worthy of her mother’s love to come into her life, Benjamin takes it on himself to fulfill that role personally. The only problem is he can’t admit that he is only a mall Santa with little hope of being more and she must learn to open herself up to another man after being hurt so recently by one.
The screenplay and cinematography may be cheesy, but the characters are certainly sincere, real-life people dealing with real-life problems. Benjamin is a fine example of a gentleman, father figure, friend and husband and although he initially lies to everyone about who he is, he eventually realizes the error of his deception and comes clean, making him an honest man with a conscience as well. He does everything he can to be a friend to Nancy’s oldest son, John-John, who can’t let go of his previous father. This relationship demonstrates strongly the importance of having a fully functional family and how a father’s influence is so important to a son’s life. Also, although the film is more about Santa then it is about Jesus, the lyrics of one of his songs include, “If it wasn’t for our Savior’s birth, then tell me what is Christmas worth?”
As for the rest of the cast of characters, I didn’t find them as developed as Benjamin, not even Nancy. Too her credit, she learns Benjamin for who he is and to realize the needs of her children. Although at one point she hints that she wants to sleep with Benjamin (he backs away), in general, their relationship is chaste and is limited to kissing and holding hands. Her ex-husband, J-Jizzy (Charles Murphy), is a rude, arrogant, and selfish man whose rapper life-style is the only model his sons have and whose suggestive music videos are one of the few negatives of the film, slightly revealing attire worn by Nancy not withstanding. Yet, even he has a hint of redemption by the end of the film.
Other content includes 1 s-word, and several misuses of the Lord’s name. The opening credits include slapstick violence between cartoon characters.
I found this movie to be generally clean and pleasantly surprising, with good morals and some strong characters. All of the actors do a great job with the material, except Queen Latifah and Terrence Howard, who are completely and totally wasted here (no, I haven’t even mentioned their roles—there wasn’t much to mention). Sure, the entire movie is cliched and sometimes overly sentimental, but its heart is in the right place, and although it may not be “perfect,” it’s good for a cold, snowy evening at home.
Violence: Minor / Profanity: Mild / Sex/Nudity: Mild
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.