The Perfect Holiday
Review By: Rocco Passafuime
It’s Christmastime once again and with that has come the fairly predictable glut of heartwarming, family-friendly seasonal movies, particularly in the genre of comedy. While Christmas-themed films, often a usually hit or miss affair, have been around since Hollywood’s golden age, very few have been made that specifically targets the African American community.
However, with the rise of playwright-turned-filmmaker Tyler Perry, whose independent films have become unexpected box office successes particularly on the strength of African American audiences, it’s signaled an increased output of more suburban and domestic African American-centered fare. Now this increased wave has ventured into the Christmas season with the romantic comedy The Perfect Holiday
Nancy (Gabrielle Union) is a divorcee who has been so wrapped up in taking care of her three children that she has seemingly put aside finding love. Benjamin (Morris Chestnut) is a struggling songwriter who takes a job as a mall Santa, with his friend Jamal (Faizon Love) as his elf.
One day, while encountering Nancy’s daughter Emily (Khail Bryant) during his rounds as Santa, she expresses to him that what she really wants for Christmas is for her mother to be happy. With that information tipped off to him, Benjamin soon bumps into Nancy and asks her out on a date.
However, despite Benjamin’s refreshing earnestness and sincerity, he stumbles upon a few outside roadblocks in any chance of happiness with her. He discovers that selfish and self-indulgent gangsta rapper J. Jizzy (Charlie Murphy), who has hired Benjamin to write a song for his upcoming Christmas album, is Nancy’s ex-husband.
On top of that, her oldest son John-John (Malik Hammond), who blindly idolizes and misses his father’s presence in his life, despises Benjamin’s presence and schemes to try and cut him out of the picture. Now, Benjamin has to not only win Nancy’s affection, but that of John-John.
While the film certainly has good intent in creating a Christmas movie centered on African American families, The Perfect Holiday feels a bit hamstrung by trying be too many different things for its audience. On one hand, it tries to harken back Christmas romantic comedies of Hollywood’s golden age, with its goofy 1960’s-inspired animated opening credits and the insertion of Queen Latifah and Terrence Howard as respectively the film’s narrator and antagonist.
On the other hand, it detours often into being a satire of the materialism of gangsta hip-hop culture, as evidenced by the scenes with Charlie Murphy’s clearly Diddy and 50 Cent-inspired J. Jizzy. The film has a fantastic cast, with a few funny scenes from Faizon Love and particularly Murphy, who is hilarious in every scene.
Its well-intentioned core story is upbeat and family-friendly without any of the movie’s cheeriness