Seasons greetings, friends. Welcome back to Dyl’s Worst Christmas Ever. If this is your first post, welcome. I’m spending this Christmas season going through and reviewing some of the worst Christmas movies ever made. Why? Because it’s 2020. That’s why. And I may or may not just be a sucker for self-punishment. But, let’s not waste anymore time. Let’s get to today’s movie.
I’m going to admit something. I had super low expectations for The Perfect Holiday. I mean… well, duh, right? I’m working my way through a list of the worst Christmas movies ever made and this made the cut. How could my expectations not be super low? But, as someone who’s sat through their fair share of Madea movies (the first six) and keeps up on the critical reception of most wide releases, I know that comedies for Black audiences can get pretty damn awful. I don’t know what it is. There’s just something about targeting that audience that makes the writers especially lazy. Then, the studios get to say that Black movies don’t sell. Which, they don’t because of general lack of quality. And the whole cycle repeats itself over and over and over again and… that’s not actually what I’m here to talk about. Point is, the fact that The Perfect Holiday beat A Madea Christmas to a spot on this list was not a good sign.
But, here’s the thing. I actually kind of liked The Perfect Holiday. Maybe I’ve just seen too many bad movies lately. It’s changed my point of view. Maybe I’m just in a good mood. I don’t know. But, I thought, at its core, this movie works pretty well. Sure, there’s plenty of stuff that didn’t (we’ll get to that), but it’s nowhere near the travesty that most reviews would have you believe. First of all, Morris Chestnut and Gabrielle Union are a pretty perfect couple. I believed their chemistry. They’re both likeable characters, dripping with charisma and sex appeal. And, I was rooting for them to get together. I dug the Christmas link too. The fact that he’s a mall Santa who only flirted with her because her daughter wished someone would is cute and original. I’ve not seen it before at least. I also liked the wrinkle that her oldest son didn’t want them to be together, because he wanted things the old way. As the oldest of three in a split family, maybe I related to that a bit more than most would, but I think it’s pretty universal. It also led to some cute hijinks, as the kids tried to get them to break up. The only part of their relationship that I didn’t really buy was the fact that he lied to her about what type of work he did. He says he did it to protect the kid-Santa relations, but it felt like something tagged on just to make sure there was enough plot to this movie. Overall though, the dating and family angles of this movie really worked for me. It’s nothing groundbreaking. It’s pretty cliche romantic comedy fare, but it served its purpose well.
It’s too bad they decided to devote so much screen time elsewhere then. This is where The Perfect Holiday kinda falls apart for me. See, we spend a lot of time focusing on other, less relatable, more ridiculous, and less funny characters in this movie. First of all, there’s the kids’ father and Union’s ex-husband, J-Jizzy played by Eddie Murphy’s brother, Charlie. I think whoever decided to put this character in has seen Love Actually one too many times. Because they kind of just ripped it off. Remember the storyline in Love Actually featuring Bill Nighy as that terrifically over the top rocker trying to make the year’s best Christmas song? Yeah. That’s what this plotline is too. They’ve even got the devoted manager who’s desperate for his bosses approval. The only thing The Perfect Holiday adds to the equation is children. This musician also ignores his kids. But, let’s be real for a moment. If Bill Nighy’s character had kids, he’d ignore them too. Unfortunately for everyone involved, Charlie Murphy’s performance isn’t half as engaging as Nighy’s. For one, he’s not believable as a hip hop artist. Two, he’s not very cool. Three, you don’t feel bad for him in the same way you do for the former, even though this movie really, really tried. And, finally, he’s just not as funny. This character and this subplot could’ve been cut altogether and I wouldn’t even notice.
But, he’s not even the most unnecessary character. In fact, he’s only third on the list. Ahead of him are two cringe worthy, all time low performances by Queen Latifah and Terrence Howard. I don’t know what the writers were thinking here. It’s bad. It’s really, really bad. Latifah plays a character called Mrs. Christmas, who randomly appears throughout the movie to kind of nudge the characters in the right direction. I don’t know if she’s supposed to be some kind of fairy godmother or Mrs. Claus or an angel or what, but I was baffled every time she’d show up. Plus, she demolishes the fourth wall, constantly making eye contact with the audience while narrating what JUST happened. I don’t get it. I mean… I understand when a character like this exists in Rudolph or Elf. They’re mystical movies where magic doesn’t feel out of place. This is reality. Other than these two at least. Oh, but who is Terrence Howard playing? Uh… Uhm… According to the credits, his name is Bah Humbug and he’s… trying to make Christmas awful? Creating chaos? Trying to add comedy to this movie for no real reason? There for a paycheck? Just weird? I don’t know. He just shows up alongside her, does something stupid, makes a goofy face. And, well, that’s it. I really don’t understand. At one point, he shows up as a child with snot running down his nose screaming about how he has to “go dookie.” I wish I made that up. I had to watch it over twice to make sure what I was seeing wasn’t some kind of fever dream. I have so many questions! Who? What? When? Where? And, most definitely, why? But, I’m also afraid of what answers I might receive.
So, overall, The Perfect Holiday is definitely a mixed bag. Overall, I didn’t hate it though. The core story and relationships actually worked quite well. Unfortunately, there’s also a lot of weird in this movie. Like, really, really weird. Personally, I don’t think it took away from the experience all that much. It’s still more or less a perfectly average, mostly non-remarkable, dime a dozen, romantic comedy. Just, you know, be prepared to see a tiny Terrence Howard dressed as a little boy cowboy.