The Perfect Holiday

The Perfect Holiday
If This Christmas served up a crowd-pleasing portion of yuletide Soul Food, then The Perfect Holiday offers dried-out leftovers.

The sentiments of the season ring awfully hollow in this uninspired urban comedy, even with the likes of Queen Latifah, Terrence Howard, Gabrielle Union, Morris Chestnut and Charles Murphy among the ensemble.

Even if it had been better, this stale sophomore effort from filmmaker Lance Rivera (The Cookout) would be facing a considerable challenge at the ticket counters, seeing as it's catering to the same audience so recently sated by This Christmas, not to mention the fact that it's opening the same week as I Am Legend, starring Mr. Boxoffice himself, Will Smith.

Meet Benjamin (Chestnut), a struggling songwriter working as an outlet-mall Santa, accompanied by his pal/oversized elf, Jamal (Faizon Love).

Meet Nancy (Union), the romance-starved, divorced mother of three young children whose ex is a pompous boob of a rapper-producer called J-Jizzy (Murphy).

It's clear that Benjamin and Nancy were meant to be together (this is, after all, something like the fourth time Chestnut and Union have shared the screen), even if her eldest son, John-John (Malik Hammond), does what he can to discourage the liaison.

Meanwhile, Latifah and Howard occasionally pop in and out as an angel/devil duo, though it often seems like they're not in the same film, or at least not on the same shooting days as the rest of the cast.

There's not a single scene in Holiday that doesn't feel like it was copied from any number of other cookie-cutter rom coms, Christmas-themed or otherwise, nor are there any moments in the script -- penned by Rivera and Marc E. Calixte -- that would qualify as genuinely heartwarming, believable or remotely funny.

Even with the easy-on-the-eyes presence of Union and Chestnut, as well as the normally amusing Murphy (as demonstrated on "Chappelle's Show") and Katt Williams as Murphy's long-suffering assistant, this shot-in-New Jersey production feels about as inviting as warm eggnog.


Yari Film Group Releasing

Destination Films, Capital Arts Entertainment, Truenorth, Flavor Unit Films


Director: Lance Rivera

Screenwriters: Marc E. Calixte, Lance Rivera

Producers: Shakim Compere, Leifur B. Dagfinnsson, Mike Elliott, Joseph P. Grenier, Queen Latifah, Marvin Peart, Lance Rivera

Director of photography: Teodoro Maniaci

Production designer: Anne Stuhler

Music: Christopher Lennertz

Costume designer: Francine Jamison-Tanchuk

Editor: Paul Trejo


Benjamin: Morris Chestnut

Nancy: Gabrielle Union

Narrator: Queen Latifah

Bah-Humbug: Terrence Howard

Jamal: Faizon Love

Delicious: Katt Williams

Brenda: Rachel True

Robin: Jill Marie Jones

J-Jizzy: Charles Murphy

Mikey: Jeremy Gumbs

John-John: Malik Hammond

Emily: Khail Bryant

Running time -- 96 minutes

MPAA rating: PG

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