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December 2007

By Wilson Morales



Distributor: Yari Film Group
Director: Lance Rivera
Producers: Shakim Compere, Queen Latifah, Marvin Peart, Leifur B. Dagfinnsson, Mike Elliot, and Joe Genier
Screenwriters: Lance Rivera and Marc Calixte
Cast: Morris Chestnut, Gabrielle Union, Queen Latifah, Charlie Murphy, Terrence Howard, Faizon Love, Rachel True, Katt Williams, Jill Marie Jones, Malik Hammond, Khail Bryant, & Jeremy Gumbs
Genre: Family Comedy
Running Time: 96 mn


Whenever you get a Christmas film, it’s all about the theme of the holiday and how well it should be executed. When you add star power to the film, it should add value and expectations based on the talent involved, so it is with great disappointment that ‘The Perfect Holiday’ is a waste of time considering the talent assembled. What could have been a film that folks can watch for ages, it’s merely something you’d probably consider as a ‘bin’ movie in a box when you pass by your local video store. As one of the producers of the film and also a big marquee attraction, Queen Latifah is relegated to cameo appearances with hardly dialogue.

Nancy (Union) is a mother of three and the ex-wife of a famous, but obnoxious rapper-singer, J-Jizzy (Murphy). While she lives in a gorgeous mansion and receives alimony and child support from her ex, she still craves for someone to just give her a ‘compliment’. That’s all she wants for the holidays. While one of her sons is hoping mommy and daddy will get back together, her daughter, Emily, the youngest kid, goes over to Santa Claus (Chestnut) at a local mall and tells him of her mommy’s wish. With one look, Benjamin (Santa Claus) is enchanted by what he sees, but feels reluctant to approach her since he’s embarrassed about his current gig at the mall, while trying to get his song, in the hands of the J-Jizzy. Yes, Benjamin is a struggling songwriter looking for his break, and with some encouragement from his friend (Love), he’s able to get words flowing in both the romantic and job department, after telling some fables. With naysayers like Bah-Humbug (Howard) lurking around, and the angelic narrator (Queen Latifah), it’s a battle to keep the spirit of Christmas in tact.

Right off the bat, the disappointment comes with the talent. With a holiday theme, and with a lack of African American Christmas films, it probably wasn’t a hard sell to get the likes of Terrence Howard, Morris Chestnut, Gabrielle Union, Jill Marie Jones, Katt Williams, and Charlie Murphy on board, BUT they should have read the script before agreeing to this film. Having Queen Latifah as a producer is one thing, but within the film, she’s not a comedian by trade and she’s not funny at all and neither is the film. While it’s good to see Chestnut and Union together again – this is their third outing, and their chemistry actually works, but the script fails to convince anyone that their characters are genuine. The script is too contrived and predictable for anyone to see anything different. Although each of them are no longer on TV, Jill Marie Jones (formerly of Girlfriends) and Rachel (formerly of Half and Half), still have a fan base that would have wanted to see them do more than play the common girlfriends of Nancy. They added nothing to the film. Granted, neither of them has been seen on the big screen that often, but they shouldn’t have sold themselves short. The biggest disappointment was Terrence Howard. Howard is actually in a situation where he can pick and choose his films. Things are going gravy for him, especially when he’s doing films with Jodie Foster (The Brave One) and Richard Gere (The Hunting Party) and is half the star of the film. What convinced him to take part of a film where he only appears seldom with hardly any lines? Politics may have played in that decision. As for the comedic aspect of the film, Murphy was the best thing in the film. He played his part for all it was worth, whereas Katt Williams, who’s really a good comedian and hot these days, was limited to playing his role straight. Even Martin Lawrence can get a chuckle out of you when he does something dramatic.

If anything, the kids (Malik Hammond and Khalil Bryant) in the film are the driving force why this film may have any appeal. After helming ‘The Cookout’ a few years, director Lance Rivera still needs to go back in the kitchen and come out with something better than this ‘turkey’.