Friday, December 14, 2007

Insert Sarcastically "Perfect" Quip Here

The Perfect Holiday

Release: 12/12/2007
Rated PG
1 hour, 36 minutes

Second-Run Seats ($$)

Released under Queen Latifah’s Flavor Unit Entertainment production plaque, “The Perfect Holiday” also features Latifah (Hairspray) as a narrator, and, evidently, Mrs. Christmas, according to the credits. Mrs. Christmas relates the story of Benjamin, played by Morris Chestnut (Breakin’ All the Rules), a struggling singer-songwriter who works part-time as a mall Santa. After hours of gimme-gimme-gimme pleas from children, his ears prick up when a young girl asks him to send a nice man to give her mommy, Nancy, a compliment. After Benjamin takes one look at Nancy, played by Gabrielle Union (Two Can Play That Game), he is smitten and makes the child’s wish come true with a quickness. But that one small act of kindness leads Benjamin to his perfect life while his many white lies threaten to destroy it all.

It’s hard to know where to begin with “Perfect Holiday.” I could have done without the director’s too-close-for-comfort close-ups of Latifah. For that matter, I could have done without her narrator character altogether. Granted, that would have eliminated Terrence Howard (Pride) and his glorified cameo as her nemesis, Bah Humbug, but trust me; it’s no big loss. The story’s entire premise of Benjamin weaving a tangled web of lies and deceit to uphold his mall Santa-child confidentiality made my head want to explode, and made for a lot of clunky, unnecessary clean up during the final resolution. Maybe this is my social outrage, but couldn’t a family-friendly movie like this have had a few more positive role models than rap moguls, single moms, and broke-ass aspiring songwriters? Let me close my Grinchy commentary by saying the child actors were struggling and in desperate need of some coaching.

All that said, “Holiday” is a movie meant to spread holiday cheer, and it does accomplish that. With their great timing and delivery Faizon Love (*Elf), Charlie Murphy (Roll Bounce), and Katt Williams (TV: The Boondocks) will keep you laughing with their ridiculous and blunt dialogue. While the overall premise is cliché, the interactions between the kids, friends, and budding lovers are earnest and the too-good-to-be-true overtones will ultimately lift your spirits.

Dirty Undies
It’s hard not to see a film that has two of Hollywood’s hottest stars in it. While Union is old enough to have three kids, looking at her makes the setup implausible, especially when she’s clad in that revealing skintight black dress. I believe my idea of a perfect holiday would be waking up to Miss Union wrapped in only a big red ribbon underneath my Christmas tree. If that were to happen, I can tell you the results would make a far more entertaining (though far from PG) Christmas story!

Surprisingly, Murphy and Williams keep the vulgarities under wraps and deliver a bounty of clean jokes for general audiences. The only remotely risqué moment in the film is watching the boy playing Miss Union’s younger son call her “bootylicious” – that was just wrong on so many levels.

The Money Shot
For a film that doesn’t have much substance, I’ve probably squeezed what’s left of it out. All you need to know is that it’s Christmas and “Perfect Holiday” fits the feel-good film bill for the season. With a pinch of good-looking people, a spoonful of comedy and a cup of good intentions you can enjoy this movie…if taken with a grain of salt, or salty popcorn at least.

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  1. Hell, I'm impressed that you even saw it. You're a braver man than I...

  2. Well, I am a Reel Whore after all. There are very few things I won't my wife wanted to see it and I had a free pass. :-)