Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Saturday, February 23, 2019

Movie Review: Black Nativity

Grade: C

Movie Review: Black Nativity

Everyone is wondering which movies are worth their time and dime during the holidays. Unfortunately, “Black Nativity” does not make that list.

Troubled teenager Langston (Jacob Latimore, “Vanishing on 7th Street”) goes from Baltimore to Harlem after he and his single mother are evicted. Under the swanky roof of his distant grandparents, Langston becomes internally conflicted as he starts gluing together the missing pieces surrounding his own nativity.

First of all, this film has an incredibly strong cast— Angela Bassett (“Olympus Has Fallen”), Forest Whitaker (“Out of the Furnace”), Jennifer Hudson (“The Secret Life of Bees”) and Mary J. Blige (“Rock of Ages”) —- but they could not collectively deliver. Surprisingly, out of all of them, Hudson was the least impressive. With so many characters introduced to the plot, their development could have used a pinch of improvement.

The script was inadequate at best, setting an extremely serious tone with few moments of comedic relief. On top of that, the plot was beyond predictable and far too basic to keep a viewer invested or interested in what is going on.

The only saving grace of this film was the singing component. After all, “Black Nativity” is a musical for Christ’s sake. The blending of gospel and hip-hop added some much needed flare. However, there was something off about the timing of the songs in-between the acting.

Instead of trying to create a divided story that revolves around the birth of Jesus while incorporating a reenactment of the actual Black Nativity, Kasi Lemmons (“Talk To Me”) should have directed this film as a modern version of the play off the stage and out on the streets. This film had the potential to be something miraculous, but all of the shortcomings make it so weak. Instead of screening this in theaters, it should go straight to television as a Lifetime special.

“Black Nativity” is as disappointing as a piece of coal found at the bottom of a stocking on Christmas morning.

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