When Lucy Cullins, a successful but cranky producer at a home shopping network, hires an actor named Nick to play Santa Claus on the network she gets more than she bargained for. Nick ... See full summary »
Brian Stokes Mitchell
Califia, the Queen and spirit of California, gives the audience a quick and somewhat romanticized look at history of California, as well as trials and tribulations, but also hopes and dreams of its various ethnicities and cultures.
This family has issues! When mean and surly Bud Slocumb keels over at breakfast, his family gathers for the wake and funeral: long-suffering widow Raynelle, unemployed son Junior who's cheating on his wife Charisse, son Ray Bud who holds a job and has a loving wife, Lucille, but struggles with alcoholism and with their difficulty having children. There's younger daughter Delightful, who constantly eats; religious Aunt Marguerite and her wayward son Royce; and, there's Juanita, their wealthy cousin's wife. They all descend on the town of Lula, struggle to say something nice about Bud, and face the challenge of sorting out their relationships with the living. Written by
Written by Kirk Franklin
Performed by Tamar Braxton and One Nation Crew
Produced by Kirk Franklin for Fo Yo Soul Productions/B-Rite Music
Tamar Braxton appears courtesy of DreamWorks Records
One Nation Crew appears courtesy of B-Rite Music See more »
Warm, wistful, human, laugh-out-loud funny movie about family, love, dreams
What a delightful movie! It's about family, and love, and dreams, and how we get along in this world -- especially with our nearest and not-always-dearest. It's warm and wistful and laugh-out-loud funny!
As for Goldberg's part, though promotions may have given her high billing, in fact her part is minuscule. But even if she'd been absent, this cast did more than enough to entertain.
LL Cool J did a fine job in the lead, only his name betraying his rap origins. He was joined by a host of other talented actors, including a favorite of mine, Loretta Devine, as a classic "momma." Another performance I particularly enjoyed was Cedric the Entertainer's role of the Reverend.
But everybody was good! Great ensemble acting -- _everyone_ was just right, including even the bit players, and they all blended into a very believable whole. The dialogue was witty, capturing exactly the character types, but down-to-earth without resorting to cheap crudity.
I kept thinking, "This would make an excellent play for community theater!" Great character types, great major roles, lots of smaller and non-speaking parts, easy to set. Then the credits showed that it had been adapted from David Dean Bottrell's play "Dearly Departed." It made me long to 'tread the boards' again -- join a great cast like that and take part in the play's warmth, truth and wry good humor.
The funeral of a hard-to-love father brings together his extended family, with their various relational wrinkles, all of which are plausibly solved by the end.
The story is kind, forgiving of human foibles, and in good taste throughout. The 'bathroom humor' mentioned in another review is a very light, one-time thing -- gas due to indigestion -- that is also a necessary plot device. I don't see how it could have been handled any better another way.
My satellite service will be showing this film all month, and I plan to watch it a couple more times. And beyond its humor, because of its warm heart and human hope I intend to buy the video.
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