Thee is nothing new in Almost Christmas. We have seen this type of movie before countless times including films such as Parenthood, This is Where I Leave You, Love the Coopers, and August: Osage County. The ensemble family film with each family member filled with melodramatic plot points that wrap up by the end of the film has been a staple of movies over the last few decades. Almost Christmas does not add anything new to the mix.
That does not mean that there is not moments to enjoy here as well.
The melodrama is everywhere here. The patriarch of the family struggles after the loss of his wife and considers selling the family home. The loud-mouth husband has a wondering eye and involved in an extra-marital affair. The siblings have a long-standing dislike for one another. One of the family member’s job interferes in the family occasion. The kids are precocious. There is a substance abuse problem. One of the siblings has struggled to find her path in the world and finds love with an old flame.
Seriously, every one of these are here. The only one we were missing was the surprise pregnancy.
And yet, I was reasonably entertained by Almost Christmas. It is harmless and does deal up a few laughs mixed in with the melodrama.
Most of those laughs are from Mo’Nique, who plays Aunt May (no, not Peter Parker’s Aunt May), a back-up signer who has traveled the world behind some of the great acts of the last 30 years. Mo’Nique’s character is so over-the-top, so cartoonish that you can’t help but enjoy her here. She delivers each line with such gusto that you believe this woman is truly a diva and she is fun to watch.
And my absolutely favorite scene in this film was when the ladies were in the kitchen trying to prepare food so they put on music and this results in a lot of dancing. That scene brought a big smile to my face, even though, narratively, it seemed to fall in a place in the story where it did not fit. The cliched family holiday football game was not as fun.
Danny Glover does a great job playing family patriarch Walter who was still grieving the loss of his beloved wife Grace.
If you are looking for that family friendly Christmas movie that checks all the boxes, this is probably it. It is a harmless film. It is desperately predictable and formulaic, but there is enough here to make the time in the theater enjoyable.