Wednesday, December 19, 2007

This Christmas

When I saw trailers for This Christmas (2007) I told the Goose this looked like a movie with essentially no plot or at the very most a loosely tied selection of stories that are drawn together primarily because they revolve around the same characters.

As it turns out, it was a movie with basically no plot involving numerous mini-stories loosely tied together by revolving around a family gathered together for Christmas.

And that is one of the problems with this movie. There are so many stories that none really gets fully developed.
You have Joe Black (Delroy Lindo) and Ma'Dere (Loretta Divine) hiding the fact they are living together from the kids. You have the tension between Joe and Quentin Whitfield (Idris Elba) because Quentin dislikes anyone replacing his father who left because of his music. You have Quentin running from violent hoodlums over some debt or other. You have Ma'Dere objecting to Michael 'Baby' Whitfield (Chris Brown) singing because Quentin and her husband both left for their music. You have Baby taking pictures and sneaking out to sing. You have Malcom Moore (Laz Alonso) and Lisa Moore (Regina King) trying to get the family to sell the cleaners so Malcom can finance a business project while he cheats on Lisa. You have Claude Whitfield (Columbus Short) and Sandi (Jessica Stroup) trying to hide the fact he married a white woman who is hiding from him the fact she his pregnant while he is hiding from her the fact he is AWOL. You have sisters arguing over the value of staying home to help with the cleaners versus going to college, of a sister bringing home her boyfriend for the first time, of college sister finding a boyfriend on the California coast while she lives in New York, of...well, you get the point. There are probably three or four other stories.

As a result, none of them gets anything more than a cursory, by the numbers treatment and you never really are able to get involved with the characters.

On a side note, the Joe Black character is interesting. It is a rare, positive portrayal of a religious figure. He is the tolerant one in the conflict with Quentin, he is the one who rescues Quentin from the thugs and then draws the family together, he is the one who provides the glue to hold the family together in spite of the obstacles...

Why, then, did they feel it necessary to have he and Ma'Dea living together outside of marriage? If he is indeed a deacon, as they represent and explicitly state, in what religion is extra-marital co-habitation acceptable? The film makers are creating their own morality here and it is unfortunate because otherwise the character would have had more consistency.

Overall, it was a predictable, busy movie that never really grabbed the heart the way it had the potential to do so. Fewer stories would have allowed more time to identify with the characters and consider their relationships.

One final note: this was brought up by the Goose or I would not have noticed: at the close of the movie, each character of any import at all, from the immediate family to the housekeeper to the thugs does a little dance. In fact, the only cast member of any import who does not go through the line dancing is Jessica Stroup...the white girl. To me it did not matter one way or the other, but she felt they were making a statement with that omission. I leave it to the viewer to decide...if you bother to see this flick that could have been really good but somehow ended up feeling like a half-baked Hallmark Special.

No comments: