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Movie Review: “Black Nativity” is Passable for a Holiday Movie

Let me just say that this movie is lucky they had such a talented all star cast, otherwise it might have been unbearable to watch.

This is a simple and standard script.  The originality lies in its musical numbers and the interesting way they parallel the story of Jesus Christ’s birth with another pregnant couple who has nothing, but never seems to loose faith.  To be fair, the film is based on the 1961 Off-Broadway play.   I have a feeling this story works better on stage then on screen.

When his mom (Jennifer Hudson) is forced to foreclose their home, Langston (Jacob Latimore) must spend Christmas break with the grandparents he never knew.  Played by Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett, the two welcome their grandson with open arms.  Since it is clearly obvious his grandparents have been living a life of luxury, Langston becomes suspicious and angry as to why they haven’t helped him and his mom financially.  Langston begins to ask more and more questions.  Leading up to what some might call a “shocking” reveal, the family secret starts to unfold.

Now I did enjoy all the moments with Whitaker and Bassett.  The two are just such great actors.  Even in a mediocre film like this, they some how make it pleasurable with their performances.  The music is great, and once again Jennifer Hudson shows off her strength in her power ballads.  Everyone else sings well, but there is a clear “Idol” out of the bunch.

It’s not even so much the cheesiness of this film that bothers me.  I like musicals, so that was not a problem for me either.  Although, some of the songs ran longer than they should have.   It was more the fact that so many problems that occurred would get resolved so unrealistically quick.  Because this film is a family holiday movie, minor details like that can be overlooked.  Had it premiered during the Lifetime channel’s Christmas movie marathon, Black Nativity would have fit right in.  In fact, the film would have been a stand out TV movie.  Unfortunately, big screen holiday competitors like The Best Man Holiday and Frozen are likely to leave more lasting impressions this season.

Rated PG for thematic material, language and a menacing situation.

Black Nativity hits theaters November 27th.

Black Nativity Official Trailer HD

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