Directed by David Talbert, “Almost Christmas” is a typical family-oriented Christmas movie. The film revolves around Walter Meyer (Danny Glover), a man trying to make his deceased wife’s sweet potato pie for the holidays. Meyer lost his wife the year before, and now the responsibility of creating his family’s Christmas dinner has fallen to him.
Meyer’s sister-in-law, Aunt May (Mo’Nique), arrives before the kids do. She attempts to cook a nice dinner, but fails. Mo’Nique plays an incredible role: an extremely funny, single aunt who is always making jokes, drinking and trying to get the family to get along.
As the Meyer kids go back home to spend the holidays with their father, the audience learns a little bit about them. Cheryl (Kimberly Elise) is married to Uncle Lonnie (J.B. Smoove), a former basketball player who shows off his ring everywhere he goes. Cheryl has a sister, Rachel (Gabrielle Union), and she has a typical sisterly relationship with her: they’re always bumping heads. Christian (Romany Malco) is the older brother, married, with two kids running for Congress. Evan (Jessie T. Usher) is the youngest of them all, and is a star football player.
As the movie goes along, it does not really explain any of their lives, except for Christian and Rachel’s. The next door neighbor, Malachi (Omar Epps) – who is also home for the holidays – is Rachel’s high school sweetheart. He spends the movie trying to get Rachel’s attention, until he finally finds out why she is so hard on him. Both Union and Epps deliver excellent performances, and share great chemistry.
Some of the characters’ stories fall through the cracks. Throughout the movie, it’s inferred that Evan has a serious shoulder injury. He asks one of the neighborhood kids, Eric (D.C. Young Fly), for some extra pain killers. However, what happens is never really shown. Neither is the incident that caused his injury, which makes his overall story arc a little vague.
The movie tries to portray the reality of today’s kids as much as possible. Dee (Marley Taylor), Cameron (Alkoya Brunson) and Niya (Nadej k Bailey) record their uncles and aunts as much as they can. Everything they have recorded and saved on their phone over the course of the film is posted on the internet.
The movie goes on for five days, as all the siblings try to get along for their father’s sake. Every night Meyer tries to cook his wife’s potato pie, and cannot succeed, until one of his grandkids tells him to make it with a smile on his face.
The overall movie is not very well thought out. The characters’ lives and backstories are very vague. The movie mostly focuses on the potato pie and the making of it. The only background story given is at the beginning of the movie, when it shows Walter’s wife’s life until she passes away. Despite the failure on the director’s part, every actor played their role amazingly well considering the story line.