Well, colour me corrected! Having seen some trailers for the film, which looked horrible, I did not include it on my 'must see' list. After watching "The Christmas" I would have to admit that I was pleasantly surprised. It is by no means a perfect film, but it is worth the price of admission. The film was funny (but not in a crass way) and touching at times. The cast are all likeable and attractive (you know that makes a difference in films!), who all turn in solid performances.
Every member of the family has their own little story and as such each of the actors has their chance to be the focus with none being weaker than the next. Though there are many stories going on at once it is really not too busy or hard to keep up.
Christmas with the Whitfields is not the usual saccharine schlock that Hollywood tends to dish up at this time of year. Their Christmas involves fighting, secrets, laughs, dancing, and much food, which I think most people in the audience will find similar to their own family experiences around the holidays.
The Whitfield family is getting together for Christmas and it certainly doesn't seem like it's going to be a quiet holiday. Everyone has a secret that they don't want the other members of the family to find out about…just yet, anyways. Mom Ma'Dere (Loretta Divine – Waiting to Exhale, Crash) has been living with Deacon Joe Black (Delroy Lindo – Gone in 60 Seconds, The Cider House Rules) since her husband Senior left her to pursue a career as a musician and her eldest son Quentin (Idris Elba – American Gangster, 28 Weeks Later) does not know. Quentin, who is a musician much to his mother's chagrin, has racked up $25,000 in gambling debts and is being pursued by two thugs. Youngest boy "Baby" (Chris Brown – Stomp the Yard) secretly wants to become a singer, which would break his mother's heart. Middle son Claude (Columbus Short – War of the Worlds – 2005, You Got Served), a military man, has secretly married a white woman (Jessica Stroup – The Hills Have Eyes II), who is pregnant, and he is AWOL from the military. Liza (Regina King) is a woman trapped in a loveless marriage with a controlling husband, Malcom (Laz Alonso – Jarhead, Down to Earth), who is having an affair. Kelli (Sharon Leal – Dreamgirls), a single businesswoman, butts heads with Liza all the time over her letting Gerald make all the decisions.
The only family member who does not seem to have anything beef or anything to hide is the youngest girl, Melanie (Lauren London – from television's Entourage), who is home from college with her new boyfriend, Devean (Keith Robinson – Fat Albert). As Christmas gets closer the Whitfield kids hear Baby sing at a club so his secret is out, Quentin's thugs find him and set up camp in the house, Claude is arrested for pulling a gun on two guys in a club, Kelli might have finally found the man (Mekhai Pfifer – from television's ER) who will make her work less, and Liza finds out that her husband is having an affair. The fact that the family is together for the holidays does not seem to be a guarantee that these are going to be happy ones.