Somewhat reminiscent of Doug McHenry's boisterous KINGDOM COME (2001) but considerably less effective, this slapdash, sentimental comedy milks viewers for tears and laughter. Every Christmas, aspiring hip-hop singer Sean (Casey Lee) must deal with his mixed feelings about the family's get-together in South Central Los Angeles. Having moved on up and out of the 'hood, Sean's prosperous brother, Raymond (Rick Fitts), has a bit of an attitude about his humble origins. Raymond's yuppie wife Eilene (Tangie Ambrose) doesn't even want to set foot in his old stomping grounds. This year's seasonal celebration also includes Sean's girlfriend, Lissa (Maia Campbell), who allows her mischievous little brother to tag along on all their dates. Rounding out the guest list are Sean and Raymond's sisters, Michelle (Monique Edwards), who can't move past a bitter divorce, and Nikki (Stacie Jae Johnson), who's abandoned her plans to be a cosmetologist in favor of keeping company with a local gangsta named Boo Boo (Keith Lewis). Although he loves all his children, the clan's patriarch doesn't welcome them to his table with equal delight; he's especially conflicted about prodigal son James (Stevie J.), who's not only homosexual but the significant other of transvestite Sheila (Manque D'Marco). Throughout the day, emotional grievances and bad behavior mar the joy of the reunion. Snooty Raymond and Eilene's spoiled son of secretly deals drugs; Nikki steals money from her mom, even after being given a loan; egotistical Sean blows an audition with a music icon. Somehow, the parents embrace their offspring despite their shortcomings. Recognizing Sheila's inner strength, James' father finally accepts his son's gayness. But the entire brood must pull together to wrest Nikki away from Boo Boo will a show of solidarity do the trick? An unwieldy blend of domestic crises and dysfunctional farce, this sloppy enterprise gets snagged on half-baked homilies. The cast is exuberant, but can't make this shameless ode to family trees that bend-but-never-break ring true.
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- Released: 1997
- Rating: NR
- Review: Somewhat reminiscent of Doug McHenry's boisterous KINGDOM COME (2001) but considerably less effective, this slapdash, sentimental comedy milks viewers for tears and laughter. Every Christmas, aspiring hip-hop singer Sean (Casey Lee) must deal with his mixe… (more)