Film Review: “Almost Christmas” (2016) ★★★★★


It would be a complete waste of your time by bringing up heavy and undeniable facts about how great American Christmas movies are. But that point, however, was valid back in the Golden era or in the 90s when we all would gather in front of the TV to watch Frank Capra’s It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), White Christmas (1954), Home Alone (1990) or While You Were Sleeping starring the timeless Sandra Bullock and Bill Pullman without worrying about offensive or inappropriate language that would not suit a great Friday movie night.

After seeing David E. Talbert’s Almost Christmas I had a chance to experience the same sweet feelings throughout, when I realized Hollywood has not forgotten the real taste of holiday movie and that we still have filmmakers out there that are capable of making you experience the same feelings you should feel when you watch an adorable, charming and spiritual movie such as Almost Christmas. Another interesting fact is that this movie offers the best intro possible for Holiday season, that already makes you feel prepared for something amazing you are about to see for almost two hours.

The beginning of Almost Christmas is amazing as right from the first second it brings a smile to your face when you find a still young and restless Grace and Walter getting ready for their long and beautiful life together. It starts when it was 1971 and continues up until 2016 when they have already grown old but are still good looking. Grace and Walter have raised four beautiful children, however, that’s when the saddest part begins of the movie, when through the smile sadness arrives when you find about Grace’s departure while Walter sits on the bed heartbroken and completely alone in the entire world.

That loneliness and emptiness still persists when Walter tries to make a sweet potato pie, but fails. It is also Christmas time when Walter gets ready for a big family reunion, to spend five magical days together before Christmas hits their doorway. Cheryl and Rachel due to some unrevealed issues by then do not talk to each other. And when they do, it’s better when no one is around. Christian has grown up and prepares for the upcoming election where he hopes to become a congressman. Evan is Walter’s youngest son whose hope to become a future athlete is too high. However, his addiction to pain killers might stop him from advancing to the next level.

All four children with their own ups and downs gather at Walter’s house to celebrate Christmas together. However, things go wild and uncontrollable when the family matters grow each moment where all of them, once again, have to learn to survive or to learn how to live together for the next five days. But Cheryl’s troubled marriage hits ground level with Lonnie, who back in 90s failed to become a full NBA player. However, through the sadness, angriness and disappointment, the family manages to find an opportunity to smile and celebrate each other’s presence until Christmas day that is only possible to get through with fastened seatbelts.

The best thing and catchable in David E. Talbert’s movie is the enchanting atmosphere that you find yourself in right from the first moment. While the performance delivered by everyone is exquisite, the jokes and intelligent lines is what will make you feel comfortable and feel yourself like you’re home. Its does not have any line or scene where you could feel yourself uncomfortable and disgusted. The writer and the filmmaker manages well the thin line between the inner worlds of its characters.

Despite the richness of the characters he creates, it never overloads them with events or situations that they would not be able to handle. Everyone has their own limit, almost the same way like life itself. They laugh and cry together. They get ready for Christmas in a crazy way possible, but in the end they know it’s almost Christmas, and that means whether they want it or not, they must leave behind everything that may upset the Christmas spirit.

To confess, I saw Almost Christmas for the second time. It is a delightful family movie that you should invite everyone to see. Danny Glover who leads the cast is truly fantastic. Only just his presence and the presence of the great Mo’Nique is enough to make you feel your day complete. Therefore, I surely believe that if you plan to watch a Christmas movie or to feel its soon arrival, you should certainly see Elbert’s hilarious and uplifting Almost Christmas, and nothing else.

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