Black Nativity 2013

Black Nativity

Critics Consensus

It's sweetly amiable and solidly performed, but Black Nativity suffers from director Kasi Lemmons' heavy-handed treatment of its celebrated source material.

50%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 90

51%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 10,452

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Movie Info

Langston (Jacob Latimore), a Baltimore teen raised by a single mother (Jennifer Hudson), travels to New York City to spend the Christmas holiday with estranged relatives, the Rev. Cornell Cobbs (Forest Whitaker) and his wife, Aretha (Angela Bassett). However, Langston soon finds that Cobbs has strict rules, and the youth is unwilling to follow them. Instead, he sets out on a return journey to his mother and finds the value of faith, healing and family along the way.

Cast & Crew

Forest Whitaker
Rev. Cornell Cobbs
Angela Bassett
Aretha Cobbs
Tyrese Gibson
Loot, Tyson
Nas
Street Prophet (Isaiah)
Luke James
Jo-Jo, Joseph
Grace Gibson
Maria, Mary
Kasi Lemmons
Screenwriter
Trudie Styler
Executive Producer
T.D. Jakes
Executive Producer
Joy Goodwin
Executive Producer
Derrick Williams
Executive Producer
Anastas N. Michos
Cinematographer
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News & Interviews for Black Nativity

Critic Reviews for Black Nativity

All Critics (90) | Top Critics (37) | Fresh (45) | Rotten (45)

  • All of Black Nativity proceeds with sort of clumsy obviousness.

    December 10, 2013 | Full Review…
  • By the time the credits rolled, my eyes were sore from all the rolling.

    December 9, 2013 | Full Review…
  • An inept, often ludicrous, take on Langston Hughes' 1961 musical-play.

    December 6, 2013 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…
  • Points for dogged credulity: whether trying to pass off Times Square as Judea or Tyrese "Fast & Furious" Gibson as the Angel Gabriel, it sincerely believes it. You, of course, are at liberty not to.

    December 5, 2013 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

    Mike McCahill

    Guardian
    Top Critic
  • It's a misguided enterprise all round, and while it's perfectly possible to applaud everything the film wants to say, you find yourself cringing at the ways it's saying it.

    December 5, 2013 | Rating: 1/5 | Full Review…
  • Even the movie's most wretched characters glow in the Harlem lamplight.

    November 28, 2013 | Full Review…

    Mark Jenkins

    NPR
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Black Nativity

  • Nov 27, 2013
    Director, Producer, and Actor Kasi Lemmons had the film world buzzing in 1997 when her feature-length debut "Eve's Bayou" hit art-house screens and racked up film festival awards along the way. It was also during the time that "Eve's Bayou" launched the careers of two unknown actresses Jurnee Smollett and Meagan Goode,who would go on to bigger and better things in their entertainment professions. Since then Kasi Lemmons has gone on to direct several films after the success of "Eve's Bayou" which was the Oscar-nominated "Talk To Me" with Don Cheadle (2007),along with "The Caveman's Valentine"(2001) with Samuel L. Jackson(who was also in Eve's Bayou),and the supernatural 2002 thriller "The Battle of Cloverfield". Her newest project "Black Nativity",a musical adaptation of Langston Hughes' perennial holiday play is astounding to watch and it is very entertaining. "Black Nativity" ,based on Langston Hughes' play is based loosely on the way Jesus of Nazareth entered the world in a manger in Bethlehem. And once it finds its footing ,this Harlem variation on the Nativity story manages to be sweet enough to touch people the way Christianity's "The Greatest Story Ever Told" always has. "Black Nativity" is brilliant in its casting as well as the sympathetic handling of the material by Kasi Lemmons. In the movie version based on Langston Hughes' play, Young Langston(newcomer Jacob Latimore),a Baltimore teen who narrates his biography in rhymed couplets,but whose mother(Oscar winning actress Jennifer Hudson) is about to lose their home. "Ain't no miracles," the kid figures out. "Just money," while the mother is struggling to survive and pay the bills to keep them afloat. His mother sends the kid off from the slums of Baltimore to live with her estranged parents,the Rev. and Mrs, Cobbs (played by Oscar winning actor Forest Whitaker,and Oscar nominated best supporting actress Angela Bassett both of whom for their work in films "The Last King of Scotland",and "What's Love Got To Do With It?")whom welcomes their grandson with open arms,but it isnt long when the kid strikes back at their hospitality,only to find out that the mystery surrounding the family has been separated for years. Since this is a musical that has a running time of just 97 minutes long,the performances are first rate especially coming from Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett as well as Jennifer Hudson's dynamic singing presence here and it shows. The supporting players are also brilliant ranging from Tyrese Gibson in his best role in decades since "Baby Boy"(2001),along with the great Vondie Curtis-Hall as a streetwise pawnbroker,and R&B songstress Mary J, Blige as an angelic parishioner at Rev. Cobbs' Holy Resurrection Baptist Church. Not to mention having on board rapper/producer Nasir Jones(better known in the hip-hop establishment as "Nas"),along with Grace Gibson and Luke James in supporting roles. The music by Laura Karpman and Raphael Saadiq, is brilliant modern soul with a hint of hip-hop that is integrated into the story. The movie is a grand detail of the comings and goings of the character,but it is Forest Whitaker(who is up for his second Oscar nomination this year for "The Butler" which was released in August of 2013),and Jennifer Hudson that keeps the film its greatness and edge. A must see.
    Mister C Super Reviewer

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