Since I began writing reviews for Pajiba, I’ve been itching to do what the site is known for: Find a bad movie and unleash my inner bitchiness onto its it until its flayed and pain-wracked form lay dying beneath my feet. Thank God for The Perfect Holiday.
Now, in order to maximize my enjoyment of my first really spiteful review, I wanted to ritz it up a little. I included some delightful “Fun Facts” and “Ponder This” questions that I hope will entertain, enlighten, and protect you from this pile of dung.
Fun Fact: The animated intro was made by John Kricfalusi of “Ren & Stimpy” fame. Way to go, buddy. Real step up.
This movie, directed by Lance Riviera (The Cookout), begins with Queen Latifah (Hairspray) as the Narrator, a nebulous figure in the movie’s universe who apparently embodies the magic of Christmastime (try to stay with me). She has to put up with the machinations of Bah Humbug (Terrence Howard, Hustle & Flow), a similarly vague magical being who hates everything about Christmas. But don’t worry about them, because they only spend about five minutes total on screen.
The “A” plot (for lack of a better term) is about the relationship between Benjamin (Morris Chestnut) and Nancy (Gabrielle Union). Nancy is recently divorced from media mogul J. Jizzy (Charlie Murphy, “Chappelle’s Show”) and is now living off his considerable alimony payments and raising their three children. The youngest child, Emily (Khail Bryant), kicks it off when she overhears Mommy telling her friends that all she wants for Christmas is a man. Emily, wanting her mom to be happy, asks the mall Santa Claus to grant the wish. It just so happens that Benjamin is said Santa, his day job while he struggles to become a professional songwriter. Benjamin, being a man with both working eyes and a brain, takes the bait and flirts with Nancy. After stalking him with her friends, she finally goes out on a date with him. In order to hide the fact that he used her daughter’s request to get the inside track, he lies and says he is a pen salesman.
Ponder This: In what Bizarro universe would a woman that looks like Gabrielle Union have to wish for a random man to compliment her? Feel free to replace that with “a man who looks like Morris Chestnut has to lie about his job in order to get a woman,” depending on which way you swing.
After what has to be the fastest courtship in the history of romance, Ben sells a song to Jizzy (who needs to finish his Christmas album), only to find out five minutes later that his new boss is his girlfriend’s ex-husband.
Ponder This: OK: The movie seems to take place during the first couple of weeks of December. So how the hell is Jizzy going to have his album ready for Christmas, even if he was one song short? I mean, the night of the release party, all the copies had been shipped. So how did they do that so fast after just getting the last song? Even with the advances in music production technology, it has to take longer than a week, which is about how much time they had.
This is on top of the fact that Nancy’s oldest, John-John (Malik Hammond) is trying to get his parents back together (going so far as to ask Santa Ben to get rid of him) and Nancy is in a bitter battle with Jizzy to keep the kids during Christmas. And let us not forget the random appearances of our two ambiguously omniscient storytellers.
Ponder This: How the hell do they not see that Ben and his friend Jamal (Faizon Love, Elf) are the mall Santa and his elf? It isn’t like Jamal’s costume really hides his identity.
Somehow, the movie ends at Jizzy’s record release party, where all the secrets are revealed, Jizzy shows his true colors and actually changes a bit, a kid gets stuck in a 20 ft. Christmas tree, the Narrator and Humbug freeze time, and everyone ends up somehow happy and better off than how they started.
Ponder This: What the hell are the Narrator and Mr. Bah-Humbug supposed to be exactly? Christmas fairies? Guardian angels? God(s)? Demons formed from the pits of Hades sent to punish me for saying those things about Tyra Banks? Escaped mental patients? What?
Comparisons between This Christmas and The Perfect Holiday are inevitable. Both feature predominantly African-American casts, both revolve around Christmas, secrets, absurdly hot women taking a ride on old Kris Kringle’s candy cane, and some stuff about family being together. Both even have a featured star acting as producer. But there the similarities end. While This Christmas was entertaining in a Hallmark Channel movie-of-the-week kind of way, this film will make you wish the theater sold 100-proof egg nog. And let me tell you, if you see these movies on the video store shelf or on Netflix, do yourself a favor and get the one with Delroy Lindo. Trust me.
Also like This Christmas, this film features a primarily African-American cast that outshines the actual film. But the disparity between the acting talent and the turd they try to spit shine into a diamond is much, much greater. Unfortunately, Latifah and Howard are practically absent, Union is criminally underutilized, and even the kids were shortchanged. What’s even more messed up is that there are some really funny parts, thanks mostly to Murphy and Katt Williams (Friday After Next), who plays Jizzy’s long suffering producer, Delicious.
This leads to the biggest flaw of the film. It has to be one of the most confusing movies I have ever seen. Not David Lynch “WTF?!!?!?” confusing, more like “did those teenage lunkheads working here get the reels mixed up in the booth?” kind of confusing. It’s like a patchwork quilt: It serves its purpose, and parts of it look like good designs on their own. But when stitched haphazardly together by an epileptic monkey, the whole thing looks like a mess and you can’t wait to shove it back into the closet for another 10 months or give it away at a clothing drive.
Claude Weaver III aka Vermillion is a future world conqueror masquerading as a mild-mannered student. He believes that this film would have been much better if Gabrielle Union walked around in lingerie. It worked for Regina King. You can see more of his perversion (and get your own!) at his blog, Vermillion’s Brain Receptacle.
The Perfect Holiday / Claude Weaver III
Film | December 17, 2007 | Comments ()