The Perfect Holiday is seasonably pablum partially redeemed by a smart (if wasted) cast and at least one unusual holiday bit. Directed by co-written by Lance (The Cookout) Rivera, the film mostly flounders through contrived meet-cute scenes and some “what were they thinking” scenes (such as one involving a 300-pound “elf” trying to put on a fat suit). The romantic/family comedy also demands a major suspension of disbelief in having the lovely Gabrielle Union portraying a woman (Nancy) who wishes a nice man would pay her a compliment.
Union plays the ex-wife of an obnoxious rapper, J. Jizzy (Charlie Murphy—Eddie’s older brother—who gets the most laughs in the film). The divorcee’s kid helps steer her to a handsome department-store Santa named Benjamin (Morris Chestnut) who also happens to be a songwriter. What’s more, he’s pitching his tunes to J. Jizzy. Much of the film involves Benjamin trying to keep Nancy and Jizzy from finding out about his romantic and business (respectively) arrangements with each of them. The problem is that there’s no logical reason why he should care—or lie to Nancy about his “true” vocation.
Much of the movie involves Nancy discussing life with her gals pals (Jill Marie Jones and Rachel True), Benjamin chumming around with his best bud, Jamal (Faizon Love); and J-Jizzy interacting with his spacey manager, Delicious (Katt Williams). This offers scenes of soul searching, self revelations and some strained comedy—but little of it is interesting.
There’s also little reason for Queen Latifah and Terrence Howard (who seems to have appeared in 95 percent of the films released in 2007) playing competing angels (or perhaps that’s angel vs. devil). Latifah breezes through her role, but Howard just seems embarrassed to be here (and who can blame him?).
One of the brightest parts of The Perfect Holiday is one of its most understated: a department store hires a black Santa and black elf helper, kids of all colors line up to visit Ol’ Saint Nick and no one questions it. It’s a sweet, hopeful set-up that offers a counterpoint to the otherwise pedestrian, plodding antics of The Perfect Holiday.
The Perfect Holiday is rated PG for brief language and some suggestive humor. Running time: 96 minutes. Macsimum rating: 4 out of 10. You can check out the film’s trailers on the QuickTime movie trailer site.