"I would rather be a lamppost in Harlem than the Governor of Georgia." This is a famous quote from Langston Hughes (1902-1967), who participated in the Harlem Renaissance that began in the early 1920s. His classic musical, "Black Nativity," appears on American stages each holiday season, so it's time an updated version is offered on film.
We have a fatherless boy sent by his destitute mother in Baltimore to stay with her estranged parents in Harlem until she finds a new job and another place to live. He is confused and angry; plus his backpack is stolen just minutes after he arrives in New York City.
Here is some of the cast:
- * Jacob Latimore (Lots of TV) is Langston, bewildered by the rift between his mother and his grandfather. No one will tell him why they aren't speaking, so all he wants is to go back home and try to help his mom.
- * Forest Whitaker ("The Butler") is Langston's grandfather, the Reverend Cornell, a dedicated minister and loving husband, but inflexible where his daughter is concerned.
- * Angela Bassett ("American Horror Story") is the lovely and wise Aretha Cobbs. Langston says, "I don't even know what I'm supposed to call you. Should I call you Grandma?"
- * Jennifer Hudson ("Winnie Mandela") is Langston's single mother, out of options and desperate to protect her son, even though she will NOT accept any help from her family. That inflexible apple didn't fall very far from the tree....
- * Vondie Curtis-Hall (Lots of TV) is the pawnbroker our young hero visits in a naïve attempt to raise money for his mother.
- * Tyrese Gibson ("Fast Five") is a spooky guy who just seems to keep showing up in that Harlem neighborhood.
This PG-rated musical features a wide range of selections, from original ballads and traditional hymns to rap, so it has something for everyone. The finale is the Christmas nativity presented in Reverend Cornell's Harlem church, so it's seasonal as well.