High Holidays (Movie Thoughts: Almost Christmas)

almost_christmas_filmThanksgiving is the official beginning of the Holiday season, so what better way to start by seeing a Christmas movie? I was not expecting much going into ‘Almost Christmas’ because I can’t remember seeing a good Holiday in some time now, but every year they keep on making them, and it seems that this one is the “urban” version of that tradition. At best, I thought this would be entertaining, but empty. But minutes into the movie, I found myself weeping. I guess that’s what Christmas means to me now – a day that starts with sadness. You would think that as each year passes by it gets better, but the sadness just deepens. But then you appreciate more and more that the little things matter most at this time of year.

The Meyers family is celebrating their first Holidays since the death of their matriarch figure earlier in the year, but besides that it seems to be business as usual for them. The siblings are still fighting, even though they are adults. There are secrets abound – substance abuse, financial problems, brinks of divorce. David Talbert, who wrote and directed this film, mines very familiar territory, some even carelessly. (I mean, one of the child is running for congress, and still campaigning around Christmastime?)  But you will forget all the flaws because of the two performance that anchor the movie:  Danny Glover’s Walter, the sensitive patriarchal figure, and Mo’Nique, who plays the sassy auntt. We see the two of them rib off each other early in the film, and the fun continues all through out. Mo’Nique is perfection, and so natural that this is probably very close to her real persona. It’s the kind of film where you start laughing, then the sad parts come in and you cry, and then with still tears in your eyes, you are laughing again. This is no rocket science, just honest outpouring of human emotions. During Christmas, that’s what you need the most.

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