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This Christmas (2007)

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A Christmastime drama centered around the Whitfield family's first holiday together in four years.
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1,264 ( 910)
4 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Delroy Lindo ... Joseph Black
Idris Elba ... Quentin Whitfield
Loretta Devine ... Ma'Dere Whitfield
Chris Brown ... Michael 'Baby' Whitfield
Keith Robinson ... Devean Brooks
Laz Alonso ... Malcolm Moore
Columbus Short ... Claude Whitfield
Sharon Leal ... Kelli Whitfield
Lauren London ... Melanie 'Mel' Whitfield
Lupe Ontiveros ... Rosie
Jessica Stroup ... Sandi
Mekhi Phifer ... Gerald
Regina King ... Lisa Moore
David Banner ... Mo
Ricky Harris ... Cousin Fred
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Storyline

In Los Angeles, Shirley Ann Whitfield, affectionately called Ma'Dere, is the matriarch of the Whitfield family, she with six children: San Francisco residing wife and mother Lisa who feels the need to act as the responsible one in managing her extended family's welfare, as such sacrificing her own wants in the process; traveling jazz musician Quentin Jr. who the family has not seen in four years; Claude the marine; New York ad exec Kelli who admits she is the selfish one; college student Mel; and Michael (called Baby) who still lives at home while figuring out what he wants to do with his life. Ma'Dere has lived in the family home for a few years now with Joe Black, a church deacon, with Ma'Dere's husband/the children's father, Quentin Whitfield Sr., long having left the family to pursue a life as a jazz musician. Because of the pain associated for Ma'Dere, Sr.'s piano sits in the garage untouched. Quentin, being a chip off the old paternal block, is the most disconnected from the ... Written by Huggo

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

You can't exchange family.

Genres:

Comedy | Drama | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for comic sexual content and some violence | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

21 November 2007 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Acasă de Crăciun See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$13,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$17,958,183, 24 November 2007, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$49,121,934, 6 January 2008
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | SDDS | DTS

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

While this film stars Delroy Lindo and Mekhi Phifer, it also serves as the executive producer debut for both actors. Lindo and Phifer also starred together in Spike Lee's movie "Clockers". See more »

Goofs

In one of the first kitchen scenes, Baby's camera keeps appearing and disappearing from around his neck. See more »

Quotes

Melanie 'Mel' Whitfield: So, technically, you slept with Santa?
Kelli Whitfield: Well, I didn't know he was Santa at the time... but technically, I guess I did.
Melanie 'Mel' Whitfield: Well, ho, ho, ho!
See more »

Crazy Credits

The opening Screen Gems logo is bright red and covered in Christmas tree lights. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Bad Movie Beatdown: Christmas with the Kranks (2009) See more »

Soundtracks

Please Come Home for Christmas
Written by Gene Redd and Charles Brown
Performed by Aaron Neville
Courtesy of A&M Records
Under license from Universal Music Enterprises
See more »

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User Reviews

 
"This Christmas" Blazes Bright and Is Filled With Cheer
21 December 2011 | by D_BurkeSee all my reviews

"This Christmas" is a little bit more adult than a typical Christmas movie. Fortunately, it also is not nearly as cynical as many Christmas comedies of late, while simultaneously still maintaining humor, charm, and warmth that may make it a perennial favorite in the years to come.

The plot of the film can be described in two sentences: Three brothers and three sisters return to their mother's house for Christmas, and bring with them excessive baggage from their lives. They reunite, and work through the troubles in their lives.

In terms of story, there's not a lot else to say. However, it's really what the actors here bring to their characters and how they interact with their other family members on screen that make this movie work.

Loretta Devine plays the matriarch of the Whitfield family, affectionately known as Ma'Dere to her six children. Despite being a divorcée, she does well for herself as the owner of a laundromat. Of her six children, the only one who lives with her is Michael "Baby" Whitfield (Chris Brown), who does not want to tell Ma'Dere about his aspirations to be a singer.

The other five children not only live away from home, but all of them have a story. Quentin Jr. (Idris Elba, great as always) is a saxophone player whose life on the road has prevented him from coming home for the holidays for years. On top of him holding a grudge against Ma'Dere's minister boyfriend, deacon Joe Black (Delroy Lindo), for not being his father, Quentin Jr. also owes debts to bookies. Part of the reason he's home is to hide from them.

The whole story with Quentin Jr. could take up an entire movie, but the film does well balancing most of the other siblings out. The second eldest child, Lisa (the great Regina King), is a stay-at-home Mom who decided to raise a family instead of go to college. Her sister Kelli (the beautiful Sharon Leal) did go to college, and is successful and residing in New York City.

Her other sister Mel (Lauren London) is in college, and brings her boyfriend home for the holidays. The final brother Claude (Columbus Short), who I believe is fourth eldest, is in the Marines, but is holding back a few secrets, including but not limited to a bride with whom he eloped.

So with six children, there are a lot of stories. Most of them weave together very well, and the other children's reactions to each one is really believable. However, I feel as though Mel could have been cut entirely from the story. By the time the other five subplots really got going, Mel's bringing her boyfriend home from college seemed less interesting, plus her character got pushed right to the back anyway.

I really liked the interactions between Regina King and Sharon Leal. They look nothing alike, but both acted so well in scenes together that you really thought they were sisters. There was also a lot of believability between King and Idris Elba, especially when the dynamic is played out on how she stayed near the family while he drifted as far away as you can get.

I also thought the tension and eventual resolution between Elba and Lindo was pretty believable. Lindo's character is not a bad guy, but Elba as Quentin, who knew his estranged father the best, plays his uncertainty against the new man in the house well.

As a Christmas movie, it was unique in the way it took place in Los Angeles, the location of no other Christmas movies I know. It's sunny, the grass is green, and everyone is still wearing shorts & T-shirts in the film. Every other Christmas movie shows people bundled up in heavy jackets and winter hats while snow is on the ground. It was brave of the filmmakers to show Christmas in such a geographic location. After all, many people celebrate the holiday in places where it's not so cold outside.

As a family movie, the cast clicks together so well, making the touching parts more poignant and making the funny moments even more familiar. My favorite line comes after Lisa reveals the news that brother Claude is married. When Kelli says that it's not funny, Lisa replies, "No it isn't, but I'm going to keep drinking until it is!" Classic!

"This Christmas" will inevitably be misattributed to Tyler Perry, not only because it's a movie with a predominantly African-American cast. The facts that Lindo's character is a deacon, and Devine plays a church-going, God-fearing woman, a role into which she is frequently typecast, don't help much.

Thankfully, however, Lindo, as Joe Black, doesn't shove Bibles in people's faces. He's religious, but not a moral crusader. Devine's character is also refreshingly more rounded than those she played in movies like "Kingdom Come" (2001) and "Death At A Funeral" (2010), which was basically the same character. Her blaming music on her ex-husband's abandoning her seemed a bit too myopic. It would have been more so if she had actually said so. Instead, it's speculated by others, especially Quentin Jr., which makes it a bit more credible.

The Whitfield family here could have been white, Latino, Asian, or any other ethnic group, and it still would be relatable to anyone who comes home to family they see only a few times a year. "This Christmas" has a similar charm and universality to "A Christmas Story". It may be a holiday movie you find yourself wanting to return to again next year. The same may not be said about your family.


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