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The Perfect Holiday

The awkward and (at best) recycled Perfect Holiday is one small step back for holiday movies, one giant leap backward for "urban" holiday movies.


The horrendous tone of Perfect Holiday is set immediately when an angel/devil (Queen Latifah/Terrence Howard) duo introduce the main characters in extra-cheesy fashion: Benjamin (Morris Chestnut) is an aspiring musician trying to make ends meet as a mall Santa while he waits for his big break; Nancy (Gabrielle Union), on the other hand, is an affluent mother of three whose rap-star husband, J-Jizzy (Charlie Murphy), is never around for her or her kids. And so it becomes immediately clear that the movie will spend its duration trying to hook these two extremely perfect strangers up. Slowly but surely Benjamin and Nancy are brought together, with help from his friend (Faizon Love) and her friends (Rachel True, Jill Marie Jones)--and an occasional assist by the aforementioned angel narrator--but like any movie romance, theirs is not without obstacles, such as her son John-John's (Malik Hammond) disapproval and a conflict of interests in the form of J-Jizzy. How ever will they fight through it all and make this the perfect holiday?!


On paper the cast might pique your interest, with Latifah and Howard seemingly heading up a quality group of actors. Thing is, they're in Perfect Holiday for maybe 10 minutes, appearing to film their scenes apart from the rest of the cast whenever they could spare some time from their real careers as movie stars. Latifah is cringingly syrupy, but it's Howard, uttering lines about ''dookie,'' who comes off even worse as the apparently immature devil of Christmastime. Not that anyone else fares much better, although Notorious B.I.G. doppelganger Love (Idlewild) and Murphy (Chappelle's Show) are good for a few cheap laughs. Chestnut and Union, now in their fourth movie together, are two of the prettiest people in the world--not just Hollywood--and that's really the thinly veiled plot here. They act accordingly, playing it safe and cutesy, with enough chemistry but not enough of anything we haven't seen from them countless times.


Indeed, it's great to see something other than the usual white, suburban, feel-bad-then-good Christmas movie we're used to, but that's about as high as the praise goes for Lance Rivera's (The Cookout, of course) The Perfect Holiday. Not to mention the fact that is was beaten in quality and release date by last month's This Christmas. When Rivera's script, which he co-wrote with three others (rarely a good sign), isn't cheesy to a ludicrous degree, it's merely cookie-cutter, ripping off all of its rip-off predecessors. And unless you're going to see how the gorgeous faces of Union and Chestnut will wind up pressed up against one another--or being lured by the prospects of Latifah and Howard, who appear so sparsely that their cameos should've gone uncredited--there's actually nothing mildly "feel-good" here. That means this holiday romantic comedy has no real holiday spirit, no real comedy and very mild PG/P.C. romance.

Bottom Line rated this film 1 star.