It's the holidays, thus, a cinematic rush of holiday cheer is upon us. "This Christmas" is writer/director Preston A. Whitmore's contribution to the season, and a huge step forward from "Crossover" of his last year (poorly received and sitting as #7 in the worst films on IMDB).
Ma'Dere is a divorced mother of five adult children and one teenage boy. She has her own secret (quietly living with and dating Pastor Joseph, who moves out just as the kids all start to come home for the holidays); oldest son Quentin doesn't approve, but doesn't snitch out mom. The other kids all have their dreams and issues. Baby, the youngest, wants to be a singer, but mom isn't keen (dad was an absent father being a musician). Lisa's husband is cheating on her; her sister Kelli discovers this and busts him to Lisa. Claude's white, pregnant wife is hidden in a hotel during the visit. Mel shows up with her latest boyfriend of the week. You get the idea.
Over the course of the visit, secrets are exposed and all the drama (and fixin's) of a family reunited for the holidays that you'd expect. The stories for each are fairly diverse, though none are unique and the resolutions are simple and, if and when the film chooses to do so, easy to tidy up into a neat, ready-for-gift-giving package.
The problems are amusing, though, and because it's not happening to you or me, it's funny. The film starts off slowly, and it takes nearly half the film's two-hour run to really pick up to a pace where I stopped looking at my watch. By then, it felt almost as though there were too many people, stories, and issues to pour through in the last hour, given it takes nearly the first hour just to get them onto the table.
I couldn't help but feel a connection -- positively or otherwise -- for each of the main family characters and Pastor Joseph, so the time and presentation of the characters was done well enough.
Two of the subplots were only glazed over that I wouldn't have minded seeing more of here. The topic of African Americans relative to military service was only hinted at with Claude, who also presents us with the pregnant, secret white wife. Some of the other storylines seems overly done, but I would have enjoyed seeing these a bit more in the forefront, rather than feeling like it was merely a backstory tossed in to give the fifth child some controversy and a story.
If you're looking for cinematic genius, this isn't the answer. For the rest of us, "This Christmas" is a decent film and worth the two hours in your seat if you're even the slightest bit interested in the story or any of the actors and actresses who grace the screen.