Dysfunctional Family Dramedy Due on DVD
For the first time in years, the Whitfields are returning to L.A. for a family reunion being hosted by their mother (Loretta Devine) with the help of her boyfriend (Delroy Lindo). But each of her kids arrives not only with luggage but burdened by emotional baggage, so there are pressing issues which need to be addressed before they can all enjoy the Christmas celebration.
Uncompromising Kelli (Sharon Leal) has a very successful professional career in New York City, but no man in her life, because she’s picky and refuses to settle. Meanwhile, Melanie (Lauren London), in from Atlanta, is a free-spirited undergrad in her seventh year at Spelman College where she keeps changing her major. She’s brought along her latest boyfriend (Keith Robinson), a pre-law major at neighboring Morehouse College. Arriving from San Francisco is eldest sister, Lisa (Regina King), who is stuck in a bad marriage to a wife abuser (Laz Alonso) with a mistress (Amy Hunter).
As for the Whitfield males, there’s hot-headed Claude (Columbus Short) who’s ashamed of his white girlfriend (Jessica Stroup). Quentin, Jr. (Idris Elba) is a struggling jazz saxophonist who has disappointed his mother by following in his failure of a father’s footsteps. Finally, there’s Michael (Chris Brown), the baby, a talented teen still living at home who’s been blessed with a beautiful singing voice. Yet, he’s been reluctant to pursue his dream due to his mother’s aversion to show business.
This wholesome family flick does a decent job of interweaving the strands of the leads’ predicaments in an entertaining fashion, even if the goings-on tend to be more cartoonish than credible. Miraculously, the assorted skeletons are revealed and dealt with satisfactorily, ultimately enabling the very contented Whitfields to gather around the dinner table for a closing Kodak moment on Christmas day.
Very Good (3 stars)
Rated PG-13 for sexual content and violence.
Running time: 119 minutes
Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
DVD Extras: Deleted and extended scenes, Chris Brown music video, cast commentary with Sharon Leal, Lauren London and Regina King, and “The Making of” featurette.
To see a trailer for This Christmas, visit: