Almost Christmas

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Almost Christmas Movie Poster Image
Talented cast elevates dysfunctional-family holiday comedy.
  • PG-13
  • 2016
  • 112 minutes

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

We think this movie stands out for:

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive messages

Clear messages about empathy and the importance of family unity despite superficial differences and past hurts, the powerful legacy that an incredible mother leaves her children, the value of siblings who look out for and help one another, and the significance of the holidays as a time for families to come together and heal.

Positive role models & representations

Walter is a wonderful father who's loving and supportive and encourages his children to make peace with one another. Aunt May wants to be with and emotionally support her brother-in-law and nieces/nephews during their first Christmas after her sister's death. The siblings all have their issues but realize what an important role they play in one another's lives. Christian realizes that he can't compromise his morals for the benefit of his political career.

Violence

One character falls off the roof in a physical comedy bit; another is hurt in a car accident and hospitalized.

Sex

References to adultery, sexual relationships, and sexting photos. A man commits adultery (off camera), but the woman shows him her thong above the waist of her trousers. A woman in just a short robe accidentally reveals her underwear to a man. Married couples kiss.

Language

Regularly used strong language includes "s--t," "goddamn," "dumbass," "bitch," "bulls--t," "damn," "bastards," "ass," "hell," "t--ties," and more.

Consumerism

Brands featured include Nike, MacBook and iPhone, Greyhound bus, Organic Valley milk, Piggly Wiggly, Jeep. 

Drinking, drugs & smoking

Adults drink cocktails and wine, but not to excess. An athlete who's done with his prescribed drugs takes black-market painkillers.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Almost Christmas is an all-star ensemble holiday movie (stars include Danny Glover, Gabrielle Union, and more) about a dysfunctional family celebrating their first Christmas after a sad loss. Although it centers on a family with three school-aged grandchildren, it's not really for kids. Mature themes include adultery, drug dependency, and grief, and language includes words like "s--t," "ass," "bitch," and more. On the sex front, there's an affair between a married man and a woman he barely knows. Adults drink, but not overly so, and one character uses illegally obtained painkillers. Still, in the end the movie offers a positive message about forgiveness, family closeness, and the power of a strong legacy.

User Reviews

Adult Written byAlesyah F. December 4, 2016

Typical holiday movie

Sad to say. It's just a typical black movie (yes I am black ). But it was by far one of the worst movies I seen. Can't say enough but it was dis...
Adult Written byZay L December 11, 2016

Worth seeing

While there definitely is a debatable amount of swearing and a few sexually suggestive encounters, this movie isn't one to pass up. The humor of the movie...
Teen, 14 years old Written bySamuel John nowe December 9, 2016

A great Christmas movie

Ok so I watched this recently and I can say it and it gets pretty crude and theirs a bunch of swearing and scenes were sex is implied however never shown and th...

What's the story?

Set in Birmingham, Alabama, ALMOST CHRISTMAS follows an African-American family that's gathering for their first Christmas since their beloved matriarch's death. Widower/head of the family Walter (Danny Glover) wants his adult children to spend five days together reconnecting. Big brother Christian (Romany Malco), who's running for Congress, is visiting with his wife, Sonya (Nicole Ari Parker), and two young kids. Older sister Cheryl (Kimberly Elise), a dentist, comes with her husband, Lonnie (JB Smoove), who has a wandering eye. Younger sister Rachel (Gabrielle Union) is a financially struggling single mother with a tween daughter. And "surprise" baby brother Evan (Jessie T. Usher) is recuperating from a recent college football injury. While Walter attempts to make his wife's sweet potato pie without the aid of a recipe (it's missing), Cheryl and Rachel constantly bicker. Christian keeps working with his ingratiating campaign manager, Brooks (John Michael Higgins), and Lonnie is too busy scoping out a grocery store clerk to be of any use to the family. And then there's professional backup singer Aunt May (Mo'Nique), who's always ready with a cutting quip or cocktail to stir things up.

Is it any good?

The talented all-star cast -- particularly Smoove and Mo'Nique -- makes this standard-issue dysfunctional-family holiday comedy worth watching. Although Almost Christmas' storyline is rather thin -- Dad is secretly selling the house! Evan is taking painkillers! Lonnie is a philanderer! -- the actors play their roles so well that viewers will be invested in the feel-good happy-holidays outcome. Christmas movies in general tend to be pretty predictable, but that doesn't make them any less entertaining. There's enough in director David E. Talbert's story that's poignant and sweet that moviegoers will overlook the story's more formulaic aspects.

Plus, Mo'Nique is hilarious as the wig-swapping, name-dropping Aunt May, who's performed for Mick Jagger and Chaka Khan and enjoys imparting all of her wisdom to Walter and her nieces and nephews. She and Smoove contribute the majority of the movie's humor. His character enjoys touting his brief time as a Seattle Supersonic (even though he then ended up playing ball in Croatia and is far from a household name). The movie's sibling dynamics feel authentic, with a relatable blend of rivalry, nostalgia, and dependence. And Glover's quest to perfect his wife's signature dish will pull at anyone's heartstrings.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Almost Christmas depicts family relationships. What's the movie's message about the importance of having a close family?

  • How do the characters demonstrate empathy? Why is that an important character strength?

  • Why do you think Christmas movies are so popular? What makes seeing movies around the holidays such a tradition for many families? What are your favorite holiday movies?

  • Discuss the theme of honesty in the movie. Which characters were keeping secrets or lying? How did those secrets affect them?

Movie details

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