4.6/10
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19 user 43 critic

Black Nativity (2013)

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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.

Director:

Kasi Lemmons

Writers:

Langston Hughes (based on the play by), Kasi Lemmons (written for the screen by)
2 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Forest Whitaker ... Reverend Cornell Cobbs
Angela Bassett ... Aretha Cobbs
Jennifer Hudson ... Naima
Tyrese Gibson ... Loot / Tyson
Jacob Latimore ... Langston
Mary J. Blige ... Angel
Nas ... Street Prophet (Isaiah) (as Nasir Jones)
Vondie Curtis-Hall ... Pawnbroker (as Vondie Curtis Hall)
Luke James ... Jo-Jo / Joseph
Grace Gibson Grace Gibson ... Maria / Mary
Rotimi ... Officer Butch McDaniels
J. Mallory McCree ... Kyle
Henry Hunter Hall ... Snoopy (as H. Hunter Hall)
Michael Dale ... Innkeeper
Doug Willen ... Chic Man
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Storyline

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 Fox Searchlight

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Genres:

Drama | Family | Music | Musical

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for thematic material, language and a menacing situation. | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official site

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

27 November 2013 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Black Nativity - Um Espectáculo de Natal See more »

Filming Locations:

New York City, New York, USA

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Box Office

Budget:

$17,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$3,669,530, 1 December 2013, Wide Release

Gross USA:

$7,017,178, 10 January 2014
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | SDDS | Datasat

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

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

Trivia

Angela Bassett plays a preacher's wife in this film. In 1996, her "Waiting to Exhale" co-star Whitney Houston played the title role in "The Preacher's Wife". The preacher in that film was played by Courteney B. Vance, Bassett's real-life husband. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Saturday Night Live: Lady Gaga (2013) See more »

Soundtracks

Motherless Child
Traditional
Performed by Jacob Latimore
Arranged by Raphael Saadiq and Taura Stinson
Additional lyrics by Raphael Saadiq, Taura Stinson and Doobie Powell
Additional Vocal Production Taura Stinson
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User Reviews

 
Worth a Look if you like Musicals
29 November 2013 | by mizwrightSee all my reviews

Going in I knew this was a movie with music and that's what it is, versus a "musical" like Les Miserables, where there's singing throughout opera-style.

The good

All the actors stand out and do their characterizations well. Especially Jennifer Hundson as Naima, the single mom raising a boy-child on her own without help and estranged from her parents. Especially Tyrese who really shows his gentle side as Tyson. His body and face marked with scars, he looks like a thug but has a worldly view as he tries to steer young Langston to the right side of life. Especially Forrest Whitaker who characterizes the Reverend Cobb. Stern, unyielding but with a soft side. Especially the music that soars and transforms the screen into a gospel show near the end. Director Kasi Lemmons ("Eve's Bayou") integrates stage show with movie set ala "Rent". The story of a young boy struggling to find answers and being pulled toward wrongful ways is simplified and strikes just the right tone with spirituality and religiousness.

The bad

Near the end the drama is laid on thick.

See it! This is the only "live" action musical of the year and while it is based on a little known play written by Langston Hughes, it's a triumphant interpretation on film.


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