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maryann johanson | #BlackLivesMatter

The Perfect Holiday (review)

Picking the single dumbest element in this extremely dumb movie is easy. It’s not the forced cuteness of the forced romance between Morris Chestnut’s (The Cave) shopping mall Santa/wannabe songwriter and Gabrielle Union’s (Running with Scissors) lonely single mom whose adorable moppet of a little girl asks that Santa to find a man for mommy. It’s not the extraordinary coincidence that Union’s ex-husband just happens to be the very rapper Chestnut is trying to interest with his tunes. It’s not the obvious humor that is oddly unconnected to anything else going on in the story (“Hey, look at the fat guy with all the candy wrappers in his pockets!”). It’s not the obnoxious product placement. It’s not the lack of attention paid to basic rules of filmic storytelling, like whether it should be daylight or nighttime in a scene or whether it’s possible to cram six months’ to a year’s worth of story into the few weeks before Christmas (hint: one cannot finish recording a CD the day before Christmas Eve and release it on December 24). It’s not even Queen Latifah’s (Hairspray) narrator, though director-cowriter Lance Rivera must be condemned for this attempt to inject fairy-tale frivolity into the proceedings via her, Burl Ives-in-Frosty the Snowman style. Nope: the single dumbest element here is Terrence Howard (August Rush) as what can only be called Latifah’s malevolent sprite of a familiar. I weep to think what kind of bet this phenomenal actor lost to reduce him to such grotesquerie.

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watch at home

MPAA: rated PG for brief language and some suggestive humor

viewed at a private screening with an audience of critics

official site | IMDb

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