The Perfect Holiday

Movies
2 out of 5 stars

Billed as the “first African-American ensemble comedy for the Christmas season” (apparently the current This Christmas, Ice Cube’s Friday After Next and the Denzel Washington–Whitney Houston vehicle The Preacher’s Wife don’t count), Lance Rivera’s flabby holiday fare is an uninspired mix of treacle, romantic mix-ups and stale gags. Singer-songwriter Benjamin (Chestnut) is so broke that he’s playing Santa at the Jersey Gardens mall for rent money. Single mom Nancy (Union) is financially secure, but between raising three youngsters and fighting with her ex, she’s too drained for romance.

While on a family shopping outing, Nancy’s youngest asks Santa to make her mommy happy for the holidays—all it would take is a compliment from a nice man. Benjamin, who can’t help but notice that Mom is a fox, complies, setting the stage for clichéd romantic complications abetted by Nancy’s best girlfriends and a pair of feuding holiday spirits (Latifah, Terrence Howard—he’s naughty, she’s nice) who lurk around the story’s periphery in a variety of disguises, some of them downright creepy. It’s all formulaic and eminently forgettable, except for the image of Howard dressed as a child and whining that he needs to make dookie.

By: Maitland McDonagh

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