thischristmasbluHoliday films tend to be a dime a dozen over the last few years and it becomes rather difficult to pick the good ones out of the pack. Every so often there is a holiday film which captivates from start to finish. Director Preston A. Whitmore’s ‘This Christmas’ take all of life’s dramas wrapping them up so wonderfully with the Christmas season in this film.

‘This Christmas’ does an excellent job of taking multiple storylines about families struggles and happiness, while also not losing focus of the central story. This is a very emotional film as everyone in the family has some kind of personal conflict with hope of resolution. While each and everyone family member has their own personal issues, there are also unresolved issues with family members. Things hit the fan once the entire family gets together for the holiday.

It is the holidays when the entire Whitfield grownup kids come home to visit their Ma Dear (Loretta Devine). Ma Dear runs the family dry cleaning business and lives with her boyfriend Joe (Delroy Lindo) whom is a deacon. Ma Dear has demons of her own and the most difficult one is trying to accept the fact that her husband who is a musician ran off on them years ago to pursue his career. Joe loves and comforts her as he tries for years to gain the acceptance of her children, yet some of the kids do not know he is living with Ma Dear.

Then the kids start showing up one by one as they bring their emotional baggage with them. Her daughter Lisa (Regina King) whom is a housewife shows up with her husband Malcolm (Laz Alonso) and their kids. Malcolm is pressuring Lisa to persuade Ma and the rest of the family to sell the business so they can take their cut to invest the money. There are skeletons in their closet that unfold as the film progresses. Then Kelli (Sharon Leal) arrives and goes full out assault on Lisa and Malcolm throughout the film because Lisa continues to take the abuse. Ma’s other son Claude (Columbus Short) arrives as he tells the family that he on leave from the Marines. He has left his girlfriend (Jessica Stroup) at a nearby hotel since he is embarrassed that she is white and afraid as to how the family would take to the relationship. We have Melanie (Lauren London) who is in her seventh year of College due to her continual changes in majors.

As for her other two sons, they both take after their father in pursuing a musical career. Quentin, Jr. (Idris Elba) is a lot like his father as a struggling saxophonist. Ma Dear is disappointed in him that he has followed his father’s dream and Quentin is the most critical of Joe. Quentin has some skeletons of his own, that places his life in jeopardy. Then there is Michael (Chris Brown), who is the youngest of the family that still lives at home. Michael’s deep dark secret is that he has one heck of a singing voice that knocks the family out of the park when they hear him sing.

I really enjoyed ‘This Christmas’ a lot, and I was rather surprised how well the writing team and Preston A. Whitmore were able to handle the interweaving of storylines from each family member without losing the viewer. Having watched a few films of this same structure over the last few weeks, ‘This Christmas’ gets it right. Enough time is spent fleshing out each character and we as the viewer really start to feel for each Whitfield family member. I had this very warm feeling that each and every issue was dealt with by film’s end, which also made ‘This Christmas’ enjoyable and not just some open ended romp. There are also a few comedic moments throughout which helps break up the seriousness of the issues that the Whitfield are dealing with.

christmasfamilyPrint/Audio Quality
The print is presented in 1080p/AVC MPEG-4 with a 2.40:1 aspect ratio. The image looks very good and consistent throughout the entire run of the film. There were some moments where the subtle grain which is in this print was heavier in some spots like Quentin Jr. in the airport bathroom scene. Colors were vibrant and very warm helping in bringing out the details of the print.

The audio is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1 mix. For a film that is very dialogue driven, the soundfield is superb. This is mainly due to the soundtrack that is being used throughout the film. Between the Christmas music and Jazz songs, you literally feel like you are sitting there listening to a concert at times. The soundtrack is dynamic throughout all the speakers. Bass levels are also appropriate providing proper bass management. Dialogue is clear and crisp without any balance issues.

Special Features

  • Cast Commentary with Regina King, Sharon Leal and Lauren London
  • Deleted/Extended Scenes [SD]
  • Making This Christmas Special [SD] (11:40)
  • This Christmas Music Video Starring Chris Brown [SD] (3:45)
  • Sony Pictures Previews [HD]
  • BD Live (BD Live Profile)

‘This Christmas’ may not be a film for everyone; I enjoyed this film a lot as it broke the norm with holiday films. I was rather impressed that interweaving storylines weren’t handled with complexity which won’t lose the viewer. Both audio and video quality is very well done with this Blu-ray release. I highly recommend giving checking out ‘This Christmas’, especially if you are looking for a fun filled emotional driven holiday film.