Steven Escareno is an amateur film critic that writes about movies in his spare time.
6 / 10
- Acting was OK for the most part. Granted, some of the actors overacted a bit for comedic effect, but it doesn't ruin the movie.
- Script was somewhat interesting, with some likable characters. Granted, it's no "Christmas Story" or anything, but it's fairly decent.
- Direction wasn't too bad.
- Cinematography and sound effects are OK.
- Story was cliched and predictable.
- Although some of the jokes were funny (i.e. the shotgun scene in the dining area), most of them tend to be "hit or miss", with a great deal of them missing.
- Romance subplot seems contrived, and doesn't add much to the story.
If you can imagine a less funnier, yet more urbanized version of "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation", then you can probably get a general gist of what "Almost Christmas" is like. That's not to say this film doesn't have it's moments, as it does. However, the movie for the most part is a "slice of life" story that while entertaining, leaves a lot to be desired in terms of it's narrative.
Former "Lethal Weapon" co star, Danny Glover, plays a old man that recently lost his wife. Still wrought with grief over her death, he tries to bring his family together for one last memorable Christmas before he inevitably sells his house after the holidays. As you'd expect out of these "slice of life" type of stories, anything that can go wrong does go wrong. Everything from his youngest son dealing with steroids, to two of his daughters bickering over nonsensical vague crap, while one of them has a lying cheating husband that used to play for the Seattle Supersonics. And if that wasn't enough for audiences to sink their teeth into, one of the eldest sons, in the family, is running for a political office, and could potentially ruin a homeless shelter with his campaign, which puts him at odds with his father.
Sprinkle in a half baked cliche romance that was thrown in for that sake of being thrown in. A running joke about Danny's character trying to perfect his wife's recipe of sweet potato pie, for the holidays. And of course, a bunch of kids hopped up on posting everything they see on social media, for some social commentary. When you add all those things together, you get "Almost Christmas" in a nutshell.
Is the movie perfect? Certainly not. The film is very predictable and cliched. A lot of the jokes tend to be "hit or miss", with a great deal of them missing. Although to be fair, the shotgun scene in the dining area was pretty hilarious.
While the acting wasn't anything special, it wasn't half bad either. Granted, some of the actors did tend to overact a bit for comedic effect, which makes the movie seem like something you'd see on the Hallmark channel during the holidays. However, it's tolerable for the most part. Plus, it was nice to see Monique again, after seeing her stellar performance in "Precious" several years ago. Granted, it sucks she had to be in this mediocre comedy, but it was nice to see her display some comedic range; even if that range involves her playing the angry black lady stereotype.
Danny Glover is basically himself in this film. Like the "Lethal Weapon" series, he's basically the "straight man" that the humor bounces of, and the protagonist that we're supposed to relate to the most among these colorful cast of characters.
However, in spite of the flaws this film suffers, the story is fairly engaging enough to keep you interested, and the characters are likable enough, to make you want hang out with them. Granted, it's not the best holiday themed "slice of life" style film out there, as I think "A Christmas Story" and "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" might have something to say about that.
However, it's not a bad comedy that'll make you cringe either. Overall, if you're into urban comedies, with a bit of a holiday theme to it, then it's worth checking out once it premieres on Netflix or something. However, I wouldn't bother seeing this one in theaters; especially when you consider the fact that there's more deserving movies out there.
© 2016 Steven Escareno