Do you have a family? If so, you'll recognize parts of this. This is one of those happy holiday get togethers, right? Well, Happy Holidays! This is the first family gathering for the Meyerfamily since Grace, their beloved wife, sister, mother, and grandmother, died. The lovely family home is full of memories, a few are bad but mostly they are good.
Writer/director David E. Talbert ("Baggage Claim") manages to capture all the nuances of a big, sorta happy family (well, maybe the word nuance is a bit too soft, some of this is pretty over the top) as they fumble their way without the steadying influence of their beloved matriarch (they call her kitchen "The Church of Grace"). Every sibling has a significant interaction with every other sibling.
Talbert's talented cast makes it all look so easy and very, very natural.
Part of this high-powered group:
- * Danny Glover ("Mozart in the Jungle") Walter Meyer is our widowed patriarch, struggling to make a traditional sweet-potato pie like his beloved Grace used to make. His clumsy attempts made us groan... And his attempts to quiet his battling daughters are equally doomed. We often see Grace, the mother of his four children, through flashbacks.
- * Kimberly Elise ("For Colored Girls...") Cheryl is the intense older sister: a married professional, affluent, and very, very organized. Her lively children capture everythingon their cell phones, including some of their rascally father's escapades.
- * Gabrielle Union ("The Birth of a Nation") Rachel is the recently divorced younger sister, struggling to raise her daughter and finish her law degree. Problem is, money trouble threatens to derail her plans. She is angry, frustrated and STILL resents her domineering, older sister!
- * Romany Malco ("Blunt Talk") Third child Christian is in the middle of a political campaign, so this family holiday is a major distraction. And that homeless shelter is in the path of developers who are backing him.
- * Jesse Usher ("Independence Day" 2016) Evan is the youngest sibling, a change-of-life baby who feels short changed: his mother died far too soon! He is an aspiring ball player but has been through painful rehab after an injury. Personally I disagree with him about the house...
- * J.B. Smoove ("Barbershop: The Next Cut") Cheryl's husband Lonnie lives in the past, telling anyone who will listen about how great he used to be... We soon learn he is all talk.
- * Omar Epps ("Resurrection") Malachi blew it big time twenty years ago when he andRachel were going to the Senior Prom. She hasn't forgotten!
- * John Michael Higgins ("Mascots") Christian's campaign manager is doing his best to keep his candidate on track, but this family really interferes.
- * Gregory Alan Williams ("Miracles From Heaven") Pastor Browning welcomes all those semi-familiar faces into his church. He recognizes them because they are CME Christians (Christmas, Mother's Day and Easter).
- * Mo'Nique (Oscar for "Precious") From the moment Aunt May steps out of that vehicle and flings her brilliant blue shawl over her shoulder, she OWNS every scene she's in! She is opinionated, funny, profane, and a terrible cook; she takes no prisoners!
This is rated PG-13, so expect plenty of profanity (mostly from Aunt May) and typical family squabbles. The screening audience laughed heartily throughout this one, so we were part of a exuberant chattering crowd when we exited the theater.