There is an undeniable disparity between mainstream films (those films produced for a largely white audience), and those movies produced primarily for an African-American audience. That's not to say that mainstream movies aren't insipidly insulting the intelligence of the audience, because Hollywood certainly cranks out more than its fair share of stupid shit. But for every moronic movie catered to a mainstream audience, there are intelligent films to counterbalance the dumb garbage. In terms of holiday fare, for every The Santa Clause 3 there are films like It's a Wonderful Life, Miracle on 34th Street and Die Hard. But when it comes to lighthearted holiday fare targeted towards a black audience, for every steaming turd like The Perfect Holiday you have absolutely nothing.
Morris Chestnut stars as Benjamin Armstrong, a struggling song writer working as Santa Claus at a mall along with his best friend Jamal (Faizon Love). Gabrielle Union co-stars as Nancy, a mother of three that is divorced from her hip-hop superstar husband J-Jizzy (Charlie Murphy), who cares more about his career than his own children. When Nancy tells her friends that all she wants is a man to pay her a compliment, he young daughter (Khail Bryant) turns around and asks Santa to send mommy a man who will pay her a compliment. Of course, when Benjamin catches a glimpse of Nancy the next day, he makes a move, leading to a series of contrivances that grow stupider by the minute. For starters, Benjamin is ashamed of the fact that he's a mall Santa, so he lies to Nancy about his job, as does Jamal, who falls in love with Nancy's best friend (Rachel True). If that's not complicated enough, one of Nancy's kids hates Benjamin, because he wants his mommy and daddy to get back together. Then there is the self centered J-Jizzy, who is desperate to find a hit single for his upcoming Christmas album (it will come as no surprise that the song he picks is written by Benjamin). And finally there is Queen Latifah who has a supporting role as a Christmas angel who manipulates things when the logic-defying script can't think of another way to move the braindead story forward. Latifah is cast opposite Terrence Howard, who is some sort of Christmas-hating spirit (technically that would make him a demon).
If any or all of this sounds like a movie that might be remotely entertaining, rest assured that The Perfect Holiday is infinitely entertaining. Of course, the entertainment value is derived from unintentional laughs from a script so devoid of intelligence you have to wonder if it was written by a lobotomized half-wit. I mean we're talking about something so stupid it should be on the Hallmark Channel, which means it is too dumb for Lifetime. And that's saying something.
There are people who will be entertained by The Perfect Holiday. Some of them might even think it's good. But if you are reading this review, then chances are you are someone who cares enough about movies to at least do some sort of critical research about what you may or may not watch; and that puts you well outside the demographic of people who would watch this shit and say with any degree of honesty that they thought it was good. The fact of the matter is that this movie is not good, and that it is only entertaining in the same way that watching one dog sniff another dog's ass is entertaining.
Despite all of the negative things to be said about The Perfect Holiday--and believe me, I could say more--there is a way this pandering trash could be worse. Instead of Morris Chestnut and Gabrielle Union, two likeable stars in their own right, it could star Cuba Gooding, R. and Vivica A. Fox. Fortunately, Charlie Murphy is on hand to add just the right amount of minstrel hijinks films like this need. This could also be a worse movie if it had been made by Tyler Perry, who would have wrapped the never-ending barrage of stupidity and predictable plot machinations in a package of religious preaching. But instead of being clobbered over the head by a bunch of dumb jokes and predictably cliché plot twists wrapped in a Jesus-friendly message, we just get the dumb shit--which in a weird way is a very good thing.
The Perfect Holiday is presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. The picture quality is good, with vibrant, consistent colors and clean transfer. Unfortunately, the image quality of the disc is negated by the script, which is so bad it forces you to pay attention to the picture, because everything else is worth ignoring.
The Perfect Holiday is presented in 5.1 Dolby Digital in English, with optional subtitles in English, Spanish and French. The sound levels are good, with a solid mix and balance between the dialog and the music. Unfortunately, when a sound mix is this good, the music fails to drown out the lame dialog.
There is an audio commentary with one of the film's many producers (I think Mike Elliot), a making of featurette, and video diaries chronicling life on the set of The Perfect Holiday. Honestly, I did not watch any of these. The sooner I was done with The Perfect Holiday the better, and I wasn't about to waste my time with supplementary material for a movie that made me want to gauge out my eyes with a dull spoon. I'm sure that no matter what facet of production the bonus material covers, at no point does anyone involved with this movie actually say, "You know, we didn't really set out to make a piece of crap, but somehow we did."
If you're looking for another reason to hate the holidays, look no further.
David Walker is the creator of BadAzz MoFo, a nationally published film critic, and the Writer/Director of Black Santa's Revenge with Ken Foree now on DVD [Buy it now]