This Christmas is what happens, in a roundabout way, when Black families get together over the holidays, but first, an interlude from one of my favorite singers and performers (fight me!).
If you know me, then you know I loathe Mariah Carey Christmas music, or Christmas music in general really unless it’s Charlie Brown or The Temptations. “This Christmas”, originally recorded by the legendary Donny Hathaway, has been done many times and many ways (Nat King Cole reference) but this is a version that I approve and not because it is Chris Brown, but because it’s GOOD!
Anyway, back to when Black people get together for the holidays. We’ll start at the beginning or so of this movie. You have a matriarch, Ma’Dere played by who else but Loretta Devine, who lives in the childhood home where everyone is to gather. She’s worked hard all her life and all she wants for the holidays, besides seeing the smiling faces of her children, is peace. She’s done all she can for her kids and some appreciate it, some take advantage of it while some lash out. We’ll get to all of this. I do have a question for all those who have already seen the movie or will be rewatching it this holiday season. Who was Rosie supposed to be? A cook? A nanny? A coworker? I recently watched the movie and I don’t remember them explaining who she was and she wasn’t Black so she stuck out. She was also played by the actress who portrayed the woman who murdered Selena so we needed to know what to expect from her moving forward.
Back to the family. In this movie, Ma’Dere has a new love, Joe played by one of the most underrated actors of my mom’s lifetime Delroy Lindo. Her husband, Senior, left the family, more so her, to pursue his dream and love of music, which is prevalent in the family’s history. Speaking of Joe, he’s the new man who just wants to love his woman and help the family as best he can.
There’s sister duo that usually hate each other for whatever reason. In this case, it seems that Lisa, played by Regina King, resents the decisions she made as a young adult and is taking it out on her sister Kelli, played by Sharon Leal who you should remember from Dreamgirls and Tyler Perry’s Why Did I Get Married?. She was Tyler Perry’s wife in those movies. Kelli is a successful lawyer who does not have a man, and is bitter about it. She’s jealous of her sister Lisa, although she won’t say so, because Lisa has a man and a family and she does not. She is alone but Kelli doesn’t like Lisa’s husband, Malcolm. No one should really and I don’t know why Kelli was the only one to say so. Maybe because I’m that person who will just say things because they need to be said and I never learned how to put myself on mute.
Quentin hasn’t been home in four years and favors his father in every way. He’s the son that resents his mother for putting certain restraints and standards on him because of the ills of his father. He loves his mother but sides with his father. The only reason he’s home is due to the fact that he’s in trouble. He’s that son.
Ma’Dere’s other son Claude, is a military man. I imagine the family hasn’t seen him in years as well. I don’t recall them saying how long it’s been since they’ve seen him. Side note, Claude is a really old name for someone that young. I’m saying. We as Black people have to stop giving out kids old names. Imagine my mom as a Linda in kindergarten. Any who, he comes with secrets and no one questions how he was able to come home for the holidays if he’s active duty. He comes with some MAJOR secrets that we don’t even begin to unravel until the end of the movie.
Melanie, played by Lauren London, is the baby sister who is struggling in her umpteenth year in college. Apparently, she changes her major according to the guy she’s dating. Never knew that was a thing until I watched this movie but I can see how that can be a thing. She’s the child who probably always has a new partner to bring home to meet the family. I want to pause here for a second because Keith Robinson as Devon was brilliant in one scene in particular. If you know, love and watch Spike Lee films, then you know he lives and breathes Morehouse. Devon’s character currently attends Morehouse and has to get Malcolm together one time about why he decided to attend a “Black school.”
That leaves Baby. Now, if you recall, Stomp the Yard came out this same year and both Chris Brown and Columbus Short starred in the film…better yet, Columbus starred in the film with Laz and them. Chris died and we never forgave the people who faked us out like he would be a major part of that film. I’ll dive into that in another post. ANY WHO, Chris Brown plays Baby, the last to leave the house. His fight is with his mom and not because he won’t let him leave the house or she wants to hold on to him being the last but because he wants to sing and cannot find a way to tell his mom who does not want to hear that curse. Brown is not a bad actor. He acts and directs his music videos but wasn’t a bad actor to begin with, and because he didn’t die in this film, we got to see some semblance of range. I want to see more of him. Someone cast him in a film please!
Last but not least, Ricky Harris’ character. If you grew up sneaking to watch Comicview, Def Comedy Jam and select Snoop Dogg videos, then you recognize Harris. He plays that random uncle or cousin who travels from house to house collecting food and alcohol on the way. It’s good to have them because usually they have an objective view of what’s going on with these kids. They can, in some cases, give some good advice or at least see what Ma’Dere can’t.
This Christmas is streaming on Netflix right now and since I know everyone is off drinking, opening presents and maybe fighting with their own family, why don’t you watch someone else do it for an hour or so. If for nothing else, you’re going to want to watch Regina King hit someone covered in baby oil with a belt.