Black Nativity (2013)
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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Critic Reviews for Black Nativity
By the time the credits rolled, my eyes were sore from all the rolling.
Even the movie's most wretched characters glow in the Harlem lamplight.
Earnest, square and proudly evangelical, "Black Nativity" is so unusual that its rough aspects are easy to forgive.
Takes Hughes' nativity story and shoves it into the far background of a sincere but tritely told modern drama about family, faith, and redemption.
Audience Reviews for Black Nativity
Even though this was a movie about singing... it was too much singing for me. Some of the performances and songs were mediocre.
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.
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.
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