Family Arrives Bearing Gifts, Secrets in "This Christmas" PDF Print E-mail
By Simone Pringle - Black College Wire   

It's the most wonderful time of the year, even at the movies. "This Christmas" will be among the first in a long line of holiday-themed films that will debut from now until New Year's.

Promotional poster

The movie, starring Loretta Devine, Regina King, Idris Elba, Columbus Short and newcomer R&B artist Chris Brown, is about the bonds that can bring family together and the secrets that can tear it apart.

Devine plays Shirley Ann Whitfield, better known as "Ma Dear," a "Mom-knows-everything" woman who loves her children.

Her three sons, Quentin, Claude and Michael (played by Elba, Short and Brown) and her three daughters Lisa, Kelli and Melanie (played by King, Sharon Leal and Lauren London) have all come home for the holidays bearing love, gifts and secrets.

Quentin, who hasn't been home for four years, was away pursuing his music career and is in a little trouble with some bookies. Claude, a decorated soldier, comes home with a little more to tell than war stories. The youngest son Michael, whom everyone calls "Baby," discovers his gift of singing, but can't bear to express his joy to his mother for fearing of upsetting her.

The sisters, of course, fight like sisters will. Lisa's marriage to her husband Malcolm (Alonzo) isn't exactly love and happiness, while successful model Kelli just wants better for her older sister. Youngest daughter Melanie seems to be a little misguided, changing college majors with the seasons, mimicking her current boyfriend's major.

Actors Delroy Lindo and Mehki Phifer play supporting roles, as well. Lindo plays Joseph Black, Ma Dear's live-in boyfriend. Tension rises between the two, and viewers can see the love Joseph has for Ma Dear. But holding on to the past and her ex-husband and the father of her children, "Senior," Ma Dear feels that marrying Joseph would be devastating to her children.

Hip-hop artist David Banner makes a cameo as one of the bookies chasing Elba's character.

The family tries to hold it together and keep the peace for the sake of the holidays and being together, but as usual, skeletons don't like living in closets and the truth does eventually come out.

The film is a funny holiday comedy with a great cast and innovative dialogue. The Whitfields are a realistic portrayal of a family. They have their problems, their issues, their conflicts, but they manage to get through it and learn that under all the drama, being a family means loving one another despite their differences.

One of the faults with "This Christmas," however, is that while the plot included many realistic problems, the problems were unrealistically resolved in a hurry. The ending made life for the Whitfields seem flawless as if all was well with the world.

While the movie touched on sensitive topics such as infidelity and interracial marriage, these were problems with funny, yet picture-perfect solutions, and did not result as they often do in the real world. In the real world, things don't always end tied neatly with a red ribbon like a perfectly wrapped present under the tree.

Despite its few shortcomings, "This Christmas" will have viewers snapping their fingers out the theater, singing right along to TLC's "Sleigh Ride." Grade: A-

Reviews represent the opinions of the individual writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of Black College Wire.

Simone Pringle, a student at Howard University, writes for The Hilltop.

Posted Nov. 26, 2007

Posted Nov. 23, 2007
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