The Twelve Day of Christmas: African American Christmas Movies

By: JJ

So I would just like to preface this with the fact that I am a white woman.  My partner in crime is also a white woman.  We understand that we likely have no business writing this blog whatsoever, but I also wouldn’t feel right if it wasn’t included.  My biggest concern is not just integrating these movies in with other categories, however not all our blogs are categorized and while I can’t reach everything here, this guarantees a wider discussion.

We could pretend for a moment that Hollywood isn’t at all racist, but since it represents the world it is in there isn’t really a leg to stand on there.  It’s a rarity that something like The Family Stone or The Holiday would be called ‘White’ Christmas Movies, even though I can scarcely think of a whiter movie than The Holiday.  And The Family Stone, while a movie I really love, commits one of my pet peeve infractions by placing all the ‘other’ in one couple.  The deaf, gay son has a black husband.  Everyone else is white and straight with white significant others and white friends.  Kudos to trying to have some inclusion, in fact their goal was to show the family was inclusive, but when you put it all in one story like that it makes it easier for the intolerant to just skip over it all.

White Privilege.jpgAt what point does this sound like pandering?

However since this is a more lighthearted blog I shall continue on about these holiday movies with a little less diatribe.  Now onward to discuss all those holiday movies with a predominately African American cast and/or crew.

As I write this I am watching Last Holiday starring Queen Latifah and LL Cool J.  So far however I’m not seeing much evidence of this Christmas movie as much as it is about a woman who chooses to vacation (because she thinks she’s dying) in a snowy climate.  No Christmas decorations or anything else suggests ‘tis the season.  For this, I fear my internet research has lied to me.  Cute movie but not what we’re looking for.

queen-latifahNever fear, the Queen will return after these short messages.

On to the next then.  Recently I went to see a movie with my Mom.  I wanted to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them but my Mom wanted to see something more festive, so we saw Almost Christmas.  While I’ve been writing these blogs so far every four days, it unfortunately has still not put me in the Christmas spirit this year, but somehow I still really enjoyed the movie.

Almost Christmas centers around a family all getting together for the first Christmas after the Mother of the family dies.  Donald Glover, the widowed man grapples to keep the fighting family together while trying desperately to recreate the sweet potato pie his wife made every year at Christmas.  Mo’Nique, playing sister to the departed simultaneously acts as over the top comic relief and down to earth voice of reason for the family.  Playing a seasoned back-up singer, Mo’Nique sports many different outfits and wigs with name-dropping stories to match.  With an amazing cast including Gabrielle Union, Kimberly Elise, Omar Epps and more this has joined the ranks of my favourite feel good family Christmas movies.

almost-christmas_0Big Christmas smiles everyone!

Among those I haven’t seen are This Christmas, Tyler Perry’s A Madea Christmas, The Preacher’s Wife and A Diva’s Christmas Carol.  This Christmas is on my list but I still haven’t forgiven Chris Brown so…moving right along.  Unfortunately Tyler Perry movies are just not for me.  A Madea insert holiday here series is popular and prolific.  If you like bigger comedy and ‘dress up’ comedy a-la Eddie Murphy’s Nutty Professor, this appears to be for you, but it is not up my particular alley.  The other two I honestly just hadn’t heard of until now but one stars Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston and the other is A Christmas Carol about a Diva.  They’re officially on my list.

The biggest reason why I took over this blog however is that one of my favourite guilty pleasure movies fits this category nicely.  Starring the beautiful Gabrielle Union and Morris Chestnut, this by the book holiday romantic comedy is something I discovered on Netflix four or five years ago and I’ve never looked back.

perfect-holidayBased on their natural sizes wouldn’t it make sense if they switched?  Just sayin’.

The Perfect Holiday really kicks off when a little girl overhears her Mom at the mall tell her friends that all she wants for a Christmas is a compliment from a nice man for no reason at all, her sweet, kind heart tells Santa.  Santa happens the gorgeous man featured below who sees the gorgeous woman featured below and thus begins their love affair filled with lies, hijinks and a strange happy ending brought to you by an over-sentimental Christmas masterpiece…in the eyes of me.

perSeriously beautiful people.

Now like any romantic comedy, there is more lying than you want to see in a budding relationship, more easily winning over the pre-existing children than you actually see in a budding relationship, and an outlandish sub-plot designed to intertwine people in ways that aren’t common in the real world at all.  But seriously I love every minute of it.

As promised Queen Latifah makes her return in this blog by being a co-angel type character with Terrence Howard.  Listed on IMDB as Mrs. Christmas and Bah Humbug respectively, they pop up throughout the movie and comment on the events and perhaps subtly spur them forwards.

Look if you want to curl up with a cute movie filled with laughs, love and some just really beautiful people, watch The Perfect Holiday.

queen-and-terranceIs it just me or is $13.95/lb for assorted chocolates a little outrageous?

Finally when doing research for this one, the movie that kept popping up most was a TV movie from 1990 called The Kid Who Loved Christmas.  This heartwarming tale originally aired on CBS is about a couple going through the adoption process when the mother (Vanessa Williams) dies tragically in car accident.  Forcing the father (Michael Warren) to fight to adopt Reggie on his own while his jazz career is progressing, but not offering the stability the adoption agency would like for him to have.  After Reggie is separated from his new adoptive father Tony, all he wants for Christmas is his Daddy back.  I won’t spoil the end for you, though I would be surprised if you can’t anticipate it.  Either way it made me tear up, I highly recommend it, as long as the basic 90’s TV special production values aren’t an issue for you.  This was also Sammy Davis Jr’s last performance before his death in 1990, so definitely worth a watch even for that alone.

the-kid-who-loved-christmas-1600_900So…why were all black children named Reggie in 90’s media?  Just wondering.

There are plenty of movies I missed, are there any that you really like that aren’t mentioned?  Let us know in the comments!

 

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