A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this fairly predictable holiday comedy includes some pratfalls and suggestive language and behavior -- especially on the part of the "bad" father. You can also expect ongoing deceptions and lies (between parents and children, boyfriend and girlfriend), some romantic kissing, a few cleavage shots, and some language ("damn," one use of "s--t," and sexual insinuations like "get busy").
What's the story?
Oh, to be a child at Christmas! Er, unless your dad is a self-involved rap star and your mom is working hard to make ends meet. In that case, according to THE PERFECT HOLIDAY, negotiations of time and energy get a little complicated, with potential disappointments lurking around every corner. In an effort to smooth the tension in her family, little Emily (Khail Bryant) decides to ask Santa for a special present. Having overheard her mother, Nancy (Gabrielle Union), wish for a man to pay her a compliment -- no strings attached -- Emily asks the Santa at the mall for exactly that. It just so happens that this Santa is an aspiring songwriter named Benjamin (Morris Chestnut). Wanting to please the child and meet her beautiful mom, he conveniently runs into Nancy, tells her she's "very attractive," then disappears. Predictably, she falls for him, and a jumble of mistaken and deceitful identities begins. Meanwhile, Nancy's husband, J-Jizzy (Charlie Murphy) uses his kids as props for his career, dressing them up for his "Rockin' Christmas" bash, then losing track of them in the crowd.
Is it any good?
While it's not hard to see where all of this is headed, the movie fills out its 96 minutes with some especially formulaic elements. Nancy shares her hopes and frustrations with her best girlfriends (Jill Marie Jones and Rachel True); Benjamin hangs out with his best friend, Jamal (Faizon Love); and J-Jizzy has a goofy and compliant manager, Delicious (Katt Williams). This arrangement allows the adults to talk endlessly about their hearts' desires and self-images, while the kids are left -- more often than not -- to figure things out for themselves. When at last Benjamin confesses his inadvertent scam to John-John, the boy is rightly protective of his mother. Still, it makes you wonder why he's the most mature male on the scene.
And as if the plot isn't busy enough already, the movie adds two fable-icious kibitzers into the mix: "Mother Christmas" (played by producer Queen Latifah) and "Bah-Humbug" (Terrence Howard). As much as she wants this dull-as-can-be romance to go well, he wants to cause impish trouble. While you'd think that Latifah and Howard would be welcome anywhere, here their comedy is strained and their commentary stale.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how this movie is similar to -- and different from -- other holiday films. What elements do many holiday movies tend to have in common? Families can also discuss the tension within the movie's central family. How can kids cope with strained relationships between parents? Kids: Have your parents ever disappointed you? How did it feel? How did you handle it?
- In theaters: December 11, 2007
- On DVD or streaming: November 3, 2008
- Cast: Charles Q. Murphy, Gabrielle Union, Morris Chestnut
- Director: Lance Rivera
- Studio: Yari Film Group
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Holidays
- Run time: 96 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: brief language and some suggestive humor.
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