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This Christmas



Reviewer's grade: B-


While it won't make anyone forget "It's a Wonderful Life" anytime soon, "This Christmas" is still better than a lot of manufactured holiday cheer you'll find at the cineplex these days. Writer/director Preston A. Whitmore II ("Crossover") has fashioned a big, fat dramedy about a family reunion over Christmas, the kind of event sure to precipitate sibling showdowns, cutesy comedy and secrets spilled.


The clan in question, the Whitfields, is a middle-class family in Los Angeles, and the relatives arrive home wrestling with the sort of dilemmas that can be resolved in time for closing credits. It's not seamless storytelling, by any stretch; there is clunky dialogue and some cornball subplots.


Still, the picture is rendered with heart and style. Much of the credit goes to a solid ensemble cast that includes Loretta Devine, Delroy Lindo, Idris Elba, Regina King, Chris Brown and Sharon Leal. PG-13


"?Phil Bacharach 




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