What a wonderful film this is.
Nominally a Christmas story, this is really just the story of a family coming together; it just happens to be for the holidays. The kids are scattered and Mom is living in sin with a man, but she doesn't want the kids to know...so every time they come over he moves out. The kids of course have problems and secrets and some of them come together, but eventually it ALL comes together.
This is a story that could take place in any family anywhere, only here the family just happens to be black. I only mention the color aspect because there is a single moment where color plays a role. Ultimately color and race are irrelevant since this is an excellent little film about the things that make us family, whatever our color. If one were to alter that one moment this film could be any family. I know some people who wouldn't watch this film because they thought it was going to be an urban drama. It wasn't until they listened to my pleas or happened to just catch it on cable before they realized that this is a story about anybody.
It helps that the film has a strong cast, including the always excellent Delroy Lindo, so that what occasionally slips into clichéd territory, always remains something more universal. Frankly these are real people up on the screen and any clichés reflect that life is something like that.
Huge bonus points for the fact that there really aren't any movie of the week problems or histrionics. Things happen, but the family takes it all in stride without a great deal of gnashing of teeth and rending of clothes.
I really like this movie a great deal and I'm always looking forward to seeing it again.
I'd rate this 8 out of 10. I want to thank the filmmakers for making a truly universal family drama that is just good time with good people.
This is very much deserving of a longer better review but I haven't figured out how to explain the tapestry of the film with out making it sound petty or less than it is.
On DVD and in rotation on cable.