Making the Grades
The Christmas season usually involves a few surprises hidden beneath the tree, however it seems the Whitfield family is overstocked with undisclosed secrets.
It's been four long years since all the children came home to spend the holidays with their mother Ma'Dere (Loretta Devine) and baby brother (Chris Brown). In anticipation of their arrival, the family matriarch packs up her live-in boyfriend and moves him out before her offspring walks in the door. Although most of the kids know about the cohabitation arrangement, Joe (Delroy Lindo), a deacon in the church, goes along with Ma'Dere's sham in order to keep her happy.
As Christmas Eve looms closer, the siblings begin to pull into the driveway with all their baggage in tow. And after some warm embraces, it doesn't take long before they start unloading on each other. Emotions heat up when the oldest daughter, Lisa (Regina Ling), suggests they sell Ma'Dere's dry cleaning business and divide the profits. Things escalate further when the oldest brother, Quentin (Idris Elba), shows up unannounced and shouldering a huge chip. Close behind are two thugs (David Banner, Ronnie Warner) who seem eager to keep Quentin in sight. Yet the real trouble begins when Claude (Columbus Short) pulls his military service pistol on a couple of rabble-rousers at a local club.
But Ma'Dere, determined to make this reunion the best one ever, turns a blind eye to the trouble teeming around her including her younger daughters' sexual shenanigans -- Mel (Lauren London) with the boyfriend (Keith Robinson) she brought home for the weekend and Kelly (Sharon Leal) with a man (Mekhi Phifer) she just met at a bar. In fact in this story, the only people not sharing a bed are the married ones.
Despite their setbacks, the Whitfield clan manages to salvage a truce for Christmas morning. Still, family audiences eager for a little bit of festive fun should be aware that this production comes packaged with profanities, fistfights and lots of liquor used to reduce domestic tensions. A couple of bar fights and some marital abuse also play into the script. So although these siblings eventually move beyond their squabbles and catch some seasonal spirit, viewers may find better ways to wrap up their holiday entertainment This Christmas.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about This Christmas.
What role does Joe play in keeping Ma’Dere’s family together? How does his relationship with Quentin change?
How do the siblings each try to justify their life decisions? In what ways do they offer support to one another?