Black Nativity (2013) - Rotten Tomatoes

Black Nativity (2013)

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AUDIENCE SCORE

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

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Movie Info

In a contemporary adaptation of Langston Hughes' celebrated play, the holiday musical drama BLACK NATIVITY follows Langston (Jacob Latimore), a street-wise teen from Baltimore raised by a single mother, as he journeys to New York City to spend the Christmas holiday with his estranged relatives Reverend Cornell and Aretha Cobbs (Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett). Unwilling to live by the imposing Reverend Cobbs' rules, a frustrated Langston is determined to return home to his mother, Naima (Jennifer Hudson). Langston embarks on a surprising and inspirational journey and along with new friends, and a little divine intervention, he discovers the true meaning of faith, healing, and family. (c) Fox Searchlight

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Cast

Forest Whitaker
as Reverend Cornell Cobbs
Angela Bassett
as Aretha Cobbs
Tyrese Gibson
as Loot/Tyson
Nas
as Street Prophet (Isaiah)
Grace Gibson
as Maria/Mary
Rotimi
as Officer Butch McDaniels
Michael Dale
as Innkeeper
Doug Willen
as Chic Man
Sorika Horng
as Chic Man's Mistress
Jason Samuels Smith
as Hotel Security Guard
C. Kelly Wright
as Desperate Pawnshop Woman
Braille Diaz
as Boy Thief
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News & Interviews for Black Nativity

Critic Reviews for Black Nativity

All Critics (82) | Top Critics (34)

All of Black Nativity proceeds with sort of clumsy obviousness.

Full Review… | December 10, 2013
Grantland
Top Critic

By the time the credits rolled, my eyes were sore from all the rolling.

Full Review… | December 9, 2013
Village Voice
Top Critic

Even the movie's most wretched characters glow in the Harlem lamplight.

Full Review… | November 28, 2013
NPR
Top Critic

Earnest, square and proudly evangelical, "Black Nativity" is so unusual that its rough aspects are easy to forgive.

Full Review… | November 28, 2013
RogerEbert.com
Top Critic

Takes Hughes' nativity story and shoves it into the far background of a sincere but tritely told modern drama about family, faith, and redemption.

Full Review… | November 28, 2013
Boston Globe
Top Critic

Its pastoral ambitions compensate for its lack of finesse.

Full Review… | November 27, 2013
Film.com
Top Critic

Audience Reviews for Black Nativity

½

Even though this was a movie about singing... it was too much singing for me. Some of the performances and songs were mediocre.

T Clark
T Clark

I can't say I was completely blown away, but this is a pretty solid recent musical with a very capable cast. Forest Whitaker and Jennifer Hudson were what made me want to watch, but everyone held their own and the music was really enjoyable. The story was a bit cliche, but that's true of many Christmas movies, so I can forgive that.

Amanda Hendsbee
Amanda Hendsbee

Based on a libretto penned by Langston Hughes and first performed off-Broadway in 1961, this film is an adaptation of Hughes' Black Nativity set in present day about a teenage boy being sent to spend the holidays with his grandparents he does not know by his hard-working mother who had a falling out with those said grandparents years ago. Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson plays that mother and fellow winner Forest Whitaker and nominee Angela Bassett play the grandparents. Jacob Latimore plays the teenager named Langston. I enjoyed a quite solid middle portion of this film but the film's beginning is rather weak (the staged musical numbers are uncomfortably odd) and its predictable conclusion is simply too trite and happy-happy. The music in church is great but updating the lyrics outside of church -- the name Obi-Wan Kenobi is audible (?) -- to go along with the story isn't as great. It seems forced. The film has good intentions but they aren't enough to save this production. This is one of director Kasi Lemmon's weaker films -- her early work Eve's Bayou is an excellent one I'd recommend over this.

Thomas Williams
Thomas Williams

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