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Perfect Holiday, The
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by William Goss

"Not Much Underneath This Christmas Twee"
2 stars

The slapsticky holiday-set rom-com 'The Perfect Holiday' is lame, not strictly in the sense of being exceedingly pathetic – which it is – but more so in the sense that the whole thing could stand to be amputated, for the greater good. It’s not terribly romantic, it’s not terribly funny, and it’s not terribly Christmas-centric, as much as it purports to be all of these things; more often than not, it's just terribly... terrible.

Okay, stay with me here: Gabrielle Union simply wants a genuine compliment from a nice man. Her daughter subsequently asks mall Santa and struggling songwriter Morris Chestnut to grant her wish, which he soon does. The two pine for each other and flirt when they finally meet; however, Chestnut’s concerned for the ethical quandaries of being both a part-time Santa and an inadvertent business associate of her ex, rapper Charlie Murphy. Oh, and all the while, Terrence Howard and Queen Latifah repeatedly appear as a pair of seasonal sprites; he’s naughty, she’s nice.

The whole farce kicks off with a fairly chintzy sequence of opening credits in which the animated incarnations of said sprites run amok, and it’s the very first indicator of the very worst to follow. While the perpetually cheerful Latifah acts as producer and finds herself re-collaborating with writer-director Lance Rivera of 2004’s The Cookout, the usually capable Howard has precious little excuse for embarrassing himself so very much in the sourpuss role. (My theory? Whatever pictures Rivera had of him must not have been very hygienic.)

Everything else plays out pretty predictably: one of Chestnut’s friends – the big and brash Faizon Love – gets with one of Union’s pals, one of her kids doesn’t care for Chestnut one bit, and all of her children find themselves greeted by Murphy only when the cameras are on him. For some reason, the reliably funny Katt Williams is relegated to the role of straight man to Murphy’s hammy music mogul (whose holiday album lyrics inevitably factor in ho-ho-ho’s), but Chestnut and Union hit it off well enough that the prospect of the film achieving levels of mere toleration becomes an oft-feasible one, only for Latifah and Howard to pop back up and induce a cringe or two as Rivera continues to mistake moronic moments for cute ones. Coincidences and confrontations pile up, with the rote assurance that all frowns will somehow, some way, be turned upside down before the credits roll.

It should be bad enough that 'Holiday' is somehow hitting screens silver instead of small, but knowing that the much more enjoyable 'This Christmas' is likely still playing right down the hall puts it on the losing end of a no-duh decision. However, had it premiered on BET, one could tune in just to witness Howard utter the funniest line in the movie – two simple words delivered so perfectly that the moment alone deserves to be transplanted into a better film, or maybe even a short – and then continue to flip through the channels, allowing every other scene in it to simply slip off into the ether instead down, down, down the box office charts.

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originally posted: 12/13/07 06:01:01
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  12-Dec-2007 (PG)
  DVD: 04-Nov-2008


  DVD: 04-Nov-2008

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