Ah, families. They're
wonderfully affirming, and can also be aggravating, annoying, and
difficult to endure. Because
they know all your secrets, and you know all of theirs.
The family patriarch, Walter (Danny Glover), is in mourning.
His beloved wife has died, and he misses her terribly.
But he's bravely going ahead with the traditional Christmas
gathering at his house, anyway.
The first surprise is that his wife's sister, Aunt May (Mo'Nique)
shows up early. To help cook,
you know. Except that her idea
of healthy gourmet is everybody's else motivation to go order pizza.
She also talks trash almost constantly, which provides her
character with lots of one-liner “zingers.”
Two sisters (Gabrielle Union and Kimberly Elise) can't be civil to
each other. The brother-in-law
(J.B. Smoove) is a self-promoting has-been with a wandering eye.
The son (Romany Malco) is running for office, and therefore
self-involved and distracted, though his wife (Nicole Ari Parker) tries
hard to get along. A couple of
kids add some comic relief with their emogee-texting during family
shouting matches. The boy next
door (Omar Epps) obviously has a past with one of the grown sisters, and
is still interested, though she pretends not to be.
The youngest son (Jessie T. Usher) is a football player with
aspirations who's overcoming injury, and starting to get addicted to the
pain pills. And his
childhood's buddy's local connections make it too easy to get supplied.
Every once in a while, they all have some great moments together,
like when they're dancing in the kitchen, or enjoying a family game of
football (before it disintegrates into arguments) or when they're
remembering their Mom with universal fondness.
But Dad just can't understand why everyone can't get along, just
for five days together, and every once in a while he just retreats to his
shop, or to the local homeless shelter, where he and his wife volunteered
for years. He's even
considering selling the house, because everywhere he turns he bumps into
It's poignant, it's hilarious, it's uncomfortable, it's
dysfunctional, it's family.