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'Almost Christmas' arrives just in time for the holidays

"Almost Christmas" centers on a family who is celebrating the holidays together for the first time since the death of the matriarch. The family patriarch, Walter (Danny Glover), is a retired automotive shop owner who now that the holiday season is here. Walter's four grown children and the rest of the family (including his wife's sister) to his house for a traditional celebration.

Daughters Rachel (Gabrielle Union) and Cheryl (Kimberly Elise) are estranged and must learn to put their differences aside long enough for the Christmas meal if they can find their mother's Thanksgiving recipes.

Rachel, a struggling law student with a young child is trying to get her groove back but doesn't "need" a man. Her high school sweetheart and next door neighbor would like to try again but she resists his advances. 

Cheryl, a successful dentist with the perfect husband and family - or so he thinks. Her husband (JB Smoove), a retired pro- basketball player, has a wandering eye. Son Christian (Romany Malco) is running for a state senate position who is determined to work during the weekend, much to the chagrin of Walter and his wife Sonia (Nicole Ari Parker) and Evan (Jessie T. Usher), the youngest is an all-star college football player destined for the NFL draft but an injury and a dependency on painkillers might could sideline his career.

The movie premise has promise but too many subplot stories that are introduced and resolved too easily are the movie's weak points.

Music legend Gladys Knight has a small role but it's the shame that Ms. Knight doesn't sing. Instead, that's left to Aunt May (Monique), a career back-up singer who has toured around the world and brought back some very inventive dishes of her own as she tries to take care of her sisters family, played by Monique for laughs. Speaking of music, its top notch as a nod to the multi-generational family as they do the electric slide to songs from every decade. Aunt May gathers around the piano to sing in a funny scene with her great nephew.

There are some minor good times when the group is all in the same room but it doesn't happen enough to give the family substance. The movie has enough heart though to make you want to see the family next Christmas -maybe. 

ALMOST CHRISTMAS (2016) - Rated PG-13 112 minutes

Danny Glover as Walter
Gabrielle Union as Rachel
Jessie T. Usher as Evan
Nicole Ari Parker as Sonya
Omar Epps as Malachi
Mo'Nique as Aunt May
J.B. Smoove as Uncle Lonnie
Romany Malco as Christian
Kimberly Elise as Cheryl
John Michael Higgins as Brooks

David E. Talbert

David E. Talbert

Larry Blanford

Troy Takaki

John Paesano

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