When I saw that vocal diva Jennifer Hudson was starring in this Langston Hughes play turned musical, "Black Nativity, I was very locked in to see this move.
I have been a big J.H. fan from early American Idol days when she was voted off way too early in the competition. Then I learned that the film also included acting heavyweights Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett, it was slam dunk. This holiday musical is presented most every season locally here at the Ct. Basie Theatre but I never seem to make it due to holiday basketball tournament conflicts. So I was looking forward to seeing it on the big screen.
This was not an iconic film and the score, though good, was seasonal and solid. Miss Hudson raised the roof on some of the numbers but candidly they were tough songs to sing and connect with. Also I think they "over-casted" if there is such a thing. Mr.
Whitaker is a powerhouse actor and does fine in this role. It just wasn't a very meaty script for such a man.
Simple story of single mom in dangerous Baltimore raising her teenage son alone.
When the financial situation turns extra bad and eviction is pending, she sends her son, aptly named Langston, (Jacob Latimore who can also sing well) to NYC to spend the holiday season with her estranged folks (Whitaker and Bassett). Whitaker is a highly prominent Reverend in Harlem and Bassett is the very supportive wife as well as active church participant
Langston is about 15 and hates coming to NYC. Immediately upon arrival, he wants to return home to Mom and will do pretty much whatever he needs to do to achieve this goal.
He is extremely confused the dichotomy of wealth between his Baltimore home with Mom and that of his well to do grandparents. Also the cause of the estrangement between the
2 families is very conflicting to him as he doesn't know the real cause.
Clearly Ms. Hudson has more of a supporting role in this film with the interplay between Latimore and his "new" grandparents being the lead roles.
There is a very emotional last scene that is not so unpredictable but works well and generates tears if you are open to hope, faith and the magic of the holiday season.
I don't think this film will do too well in the box office. Sort of a forgettable holiday film.