New on DVD: This Christmas

It doesn’t matter what size your family is or what your background is, This Christmas appeals to everyone. But to keep things interesting, this family is hiding as many secrets as they are presents from each other.

The Whitfield children have not been under one roof in four years but this year everyone has come home for Christmas. However, in addition to laughter and merriment, that many personalities under one roof is sure to create tension and reveal hidden truths. Naturally, it all works out in the end; otherwise, what kind of Christmas movie would this be?

Each character has his or her own story to tell, problem to solve and/or opportunity to grow – except Mel, who is usually on the fringes of other people’s anecdotes. Although the film presents an unrealistic portrayal of any family over three days, the characters are sincere and likeable, which keeps the audience in the narrative. Furthermore, the script is funny as the siblings comment on and insult each other as only family can.

The soundtrack is filled with holiday spirit from the likes of Toni Braxton, Luther Vandross and American Idol winner Jordin Sparks, as well as some old school hits from Aretha Franklin and Marvin Gaye. In addition, Chris Brown (who plays “Baby” Whitfield) provides an impressive rendition of “Try a Little Tenderness.”

The DVD special features are minimal. There are two deleted scenes, one centring on Mel’s boyfriend’s distrust of the two thugs and the other an extended edit of the family album montage. The “making of” featurette is not too long and lets everyone share why they got involved and what the movie means to them. But the feature commentary misses the mark. It’s provided by Regina King (Lisa), Sharon Leal (Kelli) and Lauren London (Mel), who share various personal anecdotes. However, the lack of a director or producer’s voice means many of their own questions are answered by “I don’t know.” Furthermore, it is in dire need of a male voice. Finally, there is a “This Christmas” music video featuring Brown.

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