If there is any reason, besides an annual craving for cinematic Christmas cheer, to see “Almost Christmas,” that reason is Mo’Nique. Heck, the Mo’Nique bloopers at the end of the film are worth the price of admission.
In a film with 14 stars on its poster, there’s only one other actor who can go toe-to-toe with Aunt May, and that’s J.B. Smoove as Lonny, an arrogant, philandering former basketball player married to the uptight doctor Cheryl (Kimberly Elise). She’s the daughter of Walter (Danny Glover), who has gathered his four children and their families for Christmas just 10 months after the death of his wife, Grace, and no one seems to have found their footing.
Just like every family, there are sibling rivalries and longstanding feuds and traditions and rituals. And Walter just wants to figure out how to make the perfect sweet potato pie.
The film is a bit scattered, jumping from comic set piece to comic set piece that seem to come standard issue in the holiday movie genre.
Glover is charming as Walter, but only Mo’Nique owns the biggest laughs and the truly heartfelt moments. The rest of the gang is all a bit too zany or too melodramatic.
But there’s something about the wild tonal shifts and chaos of “Almost Christmas” that rings true about the holiday season. “Almost Christmas” encompasses every high, low, in-between, culinary mishap and electric slide that makes the holidays what they are.
Rated PG-13 for suggestive material, drug content and language. 1:52. XXXXXX. XXXXXX. XXXXXX.