This Christmas (PG-13)

Drama 120 November 21, 2007
By Aaron Hillis
Tyler Perry is going to wind up with a monopoly on mainstream adult dramas marketed to African-American audiences if high-quality alternatives aren’t produced — and soon. This mushy, bloated holiday-album snapshot of a Los Angeles family with excess baggage, by writer-director Preston A. Whitmore II, is not that alternative (neither was Whitmore’s 2006 B-ball drama, Crossover). Soapy to the extreme, This Christmas takes place over a preposterously chaotic three-day weekend under the roof of divorced matriarch Ma Dear (Loretta Devine). Mulish jazz musician Quentin (Idris Elba) resurfaces for the first time in years with angry bookies in pursuit, and AWOL soldier Claude (Columbus Short) lands himself in jail for pulling a gun — out of pride for the pregnant, white wife whom his family doesn't yet know about. The cast pulls off some spirited moments, but the dialogue and situations are phonier than the yule log on TV.
Preston Whitmore Laz Alonso, Sharon Leal, Idris Elba, Regina King, Columbus Short, Lauren London, Mekhi Phifer, Chris Brown, Loretta Devine, Delroy Lindo Preston A. Whitmore II Paddy Cullen Sony Pictures

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