Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Black Nativity Review - 2½ Stars

“Black Nativity” aims to expand the Langston Hughes Christmas classic with a contemporary story and contemporary music.  The story begins in Baltimore as single mother Jennifer Hudson explains to son Jacob Latimore that the economy has hit them hard:  a job loss and eviction.  Hudson sends her son to Harlem to stay with her parents.  The kid doesn’t know his grandparents because the daughter broke with them over his birth.  Forrest Whitaker and Angela Bassett add gravitas and star power.  Whitaker walks tall in Harlem as the long time minister of a large church.  Bassett makes a find preacher’s wife making a home for them both in beautiful Harlem brownstone.  The contemporary songs give way to Langston Hughes’ classic on Christmas eve, as the family break heals in a manner much like the Christmas story.   Sometimes the plot goes a little too deep into soap opera territory and sometimes the contemporary music doesn’t quite mix with the classic spirituals.  I think “Black Nativity” hopes to find an audience who rarely attend movies.  And I think it will.  Does it deliver what it promises?  Gospel spiritual.  Is it entertaining?  Has some great moments but sometimes the plot gets a little clunky.  Is it worth the price of admission?  Always room for a good holiday musical.