A street-wise teen from Baltimore who has been raised by a single mother travels to New York City to spend the Christmas holiday with his estranged relatives, where he embarks on a surprising and inspirational journey.
In a contemporary adaptation of Langston Hughes' celebrated play, the holiday musical drama BLACK NATIVITY follows Langston (Jacob Latimore), a street-wise teen from Baltimore raised by a single mother, as he journeys to New York City to spend the Christmas holiday with his estranged relatives Reverend Cornell and Aretha Cobbs (Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett). Unwilling to live by the imposing Reverend Cobbs' rules, a frustrated Langston is determined to return home to his mother, Naima (Jennifer Hudson). Langston embarks on a surprising and inspirational journey and along with his new friends, and a little divine intervention, he discovers the true meaning of faith, healing, and family. Written by
Black Nativity is an adaptation of a stage play by Langston Hughes which itself is the telling of the nativity with an entire black cast.
This film adaptation updates it as a loose parable. Jacob Latimore is Langston Cobbs sent by his mother from Baltimore to live with his grandparents in New York that he knows little about.
Naima (Jennifer Hudson) is struggling financially with her house at risk of being repossessed. She has no option but to send her son off to her estranged parents just before Christmas. When Jacob arrives in New York he immediately loses his money and is then arrested. His grandfather Reverend Cornell Cobbs (Forest Whitaker) takes him home from the police station where he meets his grandmother Angela Cobbs (Angela Bassett.)
Jacob feels uncomfortable at his grandparents. He knows little about them, he has no idea why his mother has little to do with them, he knows nothing about his father. He finds Reverend Cobbs stern and he also has no time for religion.
During his brief stay he has regular run ins with a man called Tyson (Tyrese Gibson) who buys and sells goods outside a pawnbroker.
Also in the neighbourhood is a poor, homeless young pregnant couple.
Things come to a head when the church puts on their annual nativity and Naima returns and Langston finds out the real reason why she left.
The film is a musical drama about faith, struggle and hope. There are people struggling financially, there are people who want reconciliation and redemption. There are people having a crisis of faith.
The songs that are gospel based are not very good. The songs need a hook and be catchy. They are not and get in the way.
The story is only half developed. The characters tended to be stereotyped and two dimensional. Nothing really fits together even during its short running time.
I found the dramatic finale where everything comes together to be anticlimactic and poorly written.
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