Almost Christmas takes into consideration how grief affects a family of diverse personalities who struggle with the grief of losing an important woman, a wife and mom. Throughout the film, each of the characters experience random, but powerful moments where they remember when she touched their lives.
I recommend the film to anyone who has lost someone in their lives because the film offers a realistic sense in how people grieve in different ways. For instance, the youngest member of the family is a star basketball player at his college, but he is taking drugs.
Thinking about his mom saddened him, so he immersed himself in his passion. But in the locker room, the camera shows a close-up of him taking out a bottle of pills and staring hard at them, reflecting his struggle with his guilt.
Almost Christmas opens up with a young couple in the early 70s who make out in their bed after the woman, Grace, gives her man a slice of pumpkin pie. The man, Walter, suggestively slips his finger in the pie and gives a lick. The numbered text on the screen shows the evolution from the couple’s time they spent together to raising a family through the mid-1970s to the early 90s when they have a surprise child.
Then, in late 2015, the beautiful woman, Grace, has passed away. She sits on the edge of his bed, clutching a photograph of a younger version of the couple. The movie never says how she dies because it is not as important as the relationships she developed with her family members through the years.
But comedy relief arrives when Aunt May is introduced along with her announcement she plans to be the cook for the full five days the rest of her family is there. She is back from her tour as a backup singer and has volunteered to bring the family together through the ethnic foods she believes she has mastered. But in the end, no one likes her food and even the adults find it challenging to fake their enjoyment.
But despite the fact that their relationship had connected the members through the years, the family still has its struggles, especially among the two sisters, Cheryl and Rachel. While Cheryl is a successful hotsy totsy career woman and is still single, Rachel had a failed marriage which left her alone with her daughter, Jasmine. Yet it is evident that Rachel attempts to redeem herself, but makes herself look horrible. She refuses help from anyone, from a plane ticket home or hauling her luggage up to the house.
Meanwhile, Cheryl always looks put together, every hair tucked in and her dress smooth and clean. Because they have such extreme personalities, they feel the need to compete with each other, especially in the kitchen. They compete to see who can master their mother’s Christmas recipes, but either fail or sabotage each other’s dishes. A subplot during the course of the film is to discover the recipe box that has mysteriously disappeared.
Another person causes chaos within the family frame because of his ambitions and wandering eyes. Cheryl’s husband, Lonnie, is campaigning to be part of Congress. At the center of the film lies the homeless shelter that Grace had such a heart for and she has a secret reason for that which is revealed at the climax of the film.
Eventually, Lonnie must choose between tearing down the shelter house to affirm his potential at the White House or embrace the love from his new family while he also has a secret fling with a family friend at a grocery store.
In the end, it is not necessarily a terrible movie, but, as someone who appreciates a bit more realism, I feel like one character should not have worked out as happily ever after. I will refrain from saying who that was in case you decide to see it for yourself. Granted, Christmas is supposed to bring people together and we all enjoy feeling good, but I feel we need something more challenging in the film industry. Realistically, not everybody reconciles with each other and nobody’s heart is changed at a random moment. So I am torn to rate the film, as I would definitely watch it again, but it is not one I would consider to last as a classic.