Fox Searchlight Pictures and Maven Pictures present a 93 minute, PG, musical, drama, directed by Kasi Lemmons, written by Lemmons and Langston Hughes with a theater release date of November 27, 2013.
An adaptation of Langston Hughes play, the holiday musical drama “Black Nativity” follows the adventure of young man, Langston (Jacob Latimore) as he unwillingly sets off on a journey that will change his life and those around him forever.
Living with his mother Naomi (Jennifer Hudson) Langston comes home one afternoon to find out they have been evicted from their home. Its Christmas time and apparently the landlords have no sense of the holiday spirit but rather the need for $5000 owed to them. Left with no alternative to supply a roof over her son’s head Naomi sends Langston from Baltimore off to live with her grandparents Reverend Cornell (Forest Whitaker) and his wife Aretha (Angela Bassett) in Harlem. Not of choice Langston is on his journey by bus to Harlem and upon his arrival is faced immediately with the uncertainty of New York City. Robbed and later accused of being a thief Langston is sent to jail until the family he does not know bails him out but while in a cell he meets a man (Tyrese Gibson) who is all about his business. Little does Langston know that their paths would cross once again for better or worse.
When Langston is brought home to his new surroundings at his grandparents both of them try to understand Langston but for Langston he doesn’t understand why there is such turmoil in the relationship between them and his mother. Langston befriends a young couple on the streets; the young woman is with child. He is shown a special watch given to his grandfather by Martin Luther King a watch that Langston decides to steal and pawn so as to get money for his mother. Things don’t always go as planned and for Langston what could go wrong does. It’s not until one of the biggest nights for Reverend Cornell at his church during “Black Nativity” does Langston have a dream, walk on the side of evil but return to the side of God and with his one Christmas wish find out the answers he’s been looking for all his life. Years ago one shameful act pulled a family apart but God, church and a grateful young man helped to pull a family together.
I had big hopes for this film but found that the direction was a bit all over the place sometimes making no sense or a bit tattered and at times coming across as misplaced and awkward. The writing although is extremely well done but its adaptation to the screen made it less desirable to watch. Being a musical the scenes in which the drama and intensity of the moment became overwhelming and heartfelt ended up lost when the characters broke into song. Better use of the music as a backdrop would have definitely made this film more attractive to the audience and a bit less out of place.
I loved the cast which was one of the big reasons I wanted to see this film. I’m a big fan of Hudson and once again she does not disappoint but it’s too bad that the direction in this story let her character down. Grant it when she would break into song albeit at odd times in the story her voice is perfection. Bassett is the image of regal and the grandmother every youngster would love to have as a role model. Whitaker was spot on, filled with emotion and perfect acting skills but once again when he breaks into song his character falls a bit from grace, not because of his ability to sing but rather the timing of his musical vocals. Gibson and Latimore both do a great job on the screen but I at times was not completely sold as Latimore being the lead and felt there were probably some slightly better choices in Hollywood. Nice to see Mary J. Blige soar on the screen in song but it’s too bad like several of the other supporting characters they all seem a bit misplaced in the story. Happy Holidays this film will bring out emotions for you about love, family, and God but overall as a movie in itself it may have been better staying as a play. Written with love for Hudson with one and half paws out of four by Jon Patch.
Graduated from Penn State University in 1983 and landed my first broadcasting job at the flagship station to SUN Radio Network in St. Petersburg, FL as a producer of talk radio. In 3 months advanced to a network producer, then on air as a national eventually local weather reporter for the Tampa Bay area. Held a position in management as a trainer to new hosts and producers and later Affiliate Relations Manager, eventually in 1990 started hosting, Talkin' Pets. Left SUN radio several years later and worked with USA Radio Networks for 1 year. I worked with Business TalkRadio & Lifestyle TalkRadio Networks for19 years under the title of V.P. Affiliate Relations and Programming, later worked with Genesis Communications until starting a new network ATRN. Currently working with GAB Radio Network and with Josh Leng at Talk Media Network. I am still hosting the largest and longest running pet radio and internet show in the country, Talkin' Pets, for the past 29 years... My one true passion in life is to help to educate the world through interviews with celebrities like Betty White, Tippi Hedren, Bob Barker, Linda Blair and others, authors, foundations and organizations like the ASPCA, LCA, HSUS, AHA, WSPA on the ways to make this world a better place for all animals and mankind whom all share this very fragile and mysterious planet called earth. This is the only home we have so we all need to learn how to share and maintain it so that life for us all continues and evolves forever...