"The Perfect Holiday" falls short of funny

Dec. 18, 2007, midnight | By Anshul Sood | 14 years, 5 months ago

Movie lacks comedy but makes up with holiday cheer

Picture a single mother married to a hip-hop star who starts dating a part-time Santa with musical aspirations. Perfect recipe for a comedy, right? Not for "The Perfect Holiday," director Lance Rivera's newest project. While the movie does not gain the laughs its premise has the potential for, it still manages to spread some holiday cheer with a heart-touching story.

Nancy (Gabrielle Union) is a single-mother of three whose ex-husband J-Jizzy (Charles Murphy) is a famous pop star who neglects his children. Benjamin (Morris Chestnut) is a struggling songwriter who gives his creative material to Jizzy in hopes he will like one of his songs. Approaching Christmas, Nancy's daughter Emily (Khail Bryant) tells a mall Santa, who is actually Benjamin working part-time, that she wants her mother to meet a nice man. Benjamin jumps on the chance and eventually starts dating Nancy. All goes well until Jizzy offers Benjamin a contract on one of his songs and Benjamin finds out that Jizzy is Nancy's ex-husband. Benjamin starts freaking out and having to avoid being in the same room as both of them, yet eventually has to decide whether to pursue his career or his new-found love.

Union is able to play her role as a stressed single-mother very well, but just can't seem to bring any humor to the film. Her cheesy one-liners and body gestures can barely drag out a laugh from Benjamin, let alone the audience. Chestnut also fails to bring humor to his role, but otherwise acts well. He is able to keep Benjamin suave at times and indecisive and clumsy at others. He plays it real complimenting Nancy's beauty the first time they meet, and then just walking away, but also breaks down when he realizes Jizzy and Nancy were in a relationship and tries to escape from Nancy's home.

Charles Murphy, Eddie Murphy's younger brother and best known for his time on "Chappelle's Show," manages to bring that humor to this film and perfectly portrays Jizzy as a self-obsessed celebrity, keeping everything "sexy," as Jizzy says. Murphy is the only real source of hilarity in this film. He is only on screen for a couple minutes at a time, however, which leads to a general lack of humor.

Queen Latifah, as Mrs.Christmas, and Terrence Howard, as Bah Humbag, come on screen every now and then to interfere with Benjamin's life. Mrs. Christmas helps Benjamin out throughout his experiences while Humbag seeks to make his life miserable. Both characters have no ties to the main characters, but are just omnipresent spirits that slightly influence the course of events. Whereas Latifah adds a little bit of holiday spirit to the film through her few narrations throughout, Howard is pretty much useless furthering the storyline.

"The Perfect Holiday" is not without its good moments, though none of them are elicit laughs. A family comedy, it succeeds more in the family part than the comedy part. There are the occasional heart-warming holiday moments that make up for the lack of comedy, like when Benjamin and Nancy's son John-John (Malik Hammond) bond over the piano or when Benjamin gives a homeless man his scarf and money. Though the movie remains bland and humorless, through these moments it is able to inspire some holiday cheer in the audience.

Labeling "The Perfect Holiday" as a comedy is wrong. But so is labeling it as a bad movie. Comedy may have been the initial intention of the film, but instead it carries a spirit of the holidays feel instead. Latifah, who starts off the film and ends it, stresses family themes such as having a happy season and good spirit. Though this does not succeed in making the audience laugh, it does inspire some holiday cheer in families.

If you are looking for the comedy of the holiday film rush, pass this one up. However, if you are looking for a feel-good film about holiday virtues and their true meaning, don't miss "The Perfect Holiday."

The Perfect Holiday is rated PG for brief language and some suggestive humor.

Anshul Sood. Anshul is a very laid-back person, a real take-it-easy kind of guy. He often burns time listening to music, playing music, watching some sports game, or playing some sport. Recently, he has entered into the world of running, though he is not very good. However, … More »

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