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on December 7, 2013
This is the Christmas story of Langston Cobbs (Jacob Latimore). He lives in Baltimore with his mother (Jennifer Hudson) who has fallen on hard times. She sends her son to Harlem to live with her parents, the Rev. Cobb (Forest Whitaker) and his wife (Angela Bassett). Langston is focused on helping his mother save her home. He sees wealth in his grandparents home and his mother who needs so much. There are some family secrets Langston attempts to uncover as why his parents are separated and why his mom doesn't live at home.

The film is a musical with a range of songs from hip-hop to blues, to gospel. Langston was named for Langston Huges who wrote the original "Black Nativity." Jacob Latimore unfortunately opens with a voice cutter which I loathe, however Jennifer Hudson can really belt out a tune and hit those high notes. Her singing is worth the price of admission, I just wish they had written more for her. The film ended awkwardly as we learn the family secret which was anti-climatic as compared to Latimore's dream. Is it too late for a rewrite and produce an alternative ending for the DVD?

An African-American spiritual that is not for everyone.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon December 19, 2013
"I would rather be a lamppost in Harlem than the Governor of Georgia." This is a famous quote from Langston Hughes (1902-1967), who was part of the Harlem Renaissance that began in the early 1920s. His classic play, "Black Nativity," appears on American stages each holiday season, so it's time an updated musical version is offered on film.

We have a fatherless boy sent by his destitute mother in Baltimore to stay with her estranged parents in Harlem until she finds a new job and another place to live. He is confused and angry; plus his backpack is stolen just minutes after he gets off the bus in New York City.

Here you see some of the cast:
* Jacob Latimore (Lots of TV) is Langston, bewildered by the rift between his mother and his grandfather. No one will tell him why they aren't speaking, so all he wants is to go back to Baltimore and try to help his mom.
* Forest Whitaker ("The Butler") is Langston's grandfather, the Reverend Cornell, a dedicated minister and loving husband, but inflexible where his daughter is concerned.
* Angela Bassett ("American Horror Story") is the lovely and wise Aretha Cobbs. Langston says, "I don't even know what I'm supposed to call you. Should I call you Grandma?"
* Jennifer Hudson ("Winnie Mandela") is Langston's single mother, out of options and desperate to protect her son, even though she will NOT accept any help from her family. That inflexible apple didn't fall very far from that inflexible tree....
* Vondie Curtis-Hall (Lots of TV) is the pawnbroker our young hero visits in a naïve attempt to raise money for his mother.
* Tyrese Gibson ("Fast Five") is a spooky guy who just seems to keep showing up in that Harlem neighborhood.

This PG-rated musical features a wide range of selections, from original ballads and traditional hymns to rap, so it has something for everyone. The finale is the Christmas nativity presented in Reverend Cornell's Harlem church, so it's seasonal as well.
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on January 4, 2014
Heartwarming and moving. This movie is a cross cultural experience that will appeal to all ages. The music was uplifting and I told my family that we should make this movie an annual event much like Polar Express and Lampoons Christmas Vacation both of which are holiday staples and now Black Nativity will definitely be added to our Christmas family movie viewing..
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on November 30, 2014
"Black Nativity" is an impressive mosaic of African-American prose, music, and art set around the Christmas holiday. The narrative combines gritty realism with surrealism. The story is about a family torn apart years before because of misunderstandings who set aside their differences to come together on the Eve of Christ's birth. Music, essential to the enterprise, consists of gospel, hip-hop, and rhythm-and-blues seamlessly woven together to create a Greek chorus commenting on the events of the film. Jennifer Hudson, in her best screen appearance since her Oscar winning turn in "Dreamgirls", impresses most with her vocal styling. The acting is uniformly excellent with the always reliable Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett offering stellar work and young Jacob Latimore making an auspicious showing. If one were to quibble it would be that some of the flights of fancy director-writer Kasi Lemmons engages in fall flat. Ultimately ambition should not be faulted but commended, though. Good Christmas movies are hard to come by so films of this nature that project a positive message should be rejoiced. Noteworthy is that one of the film's producers is T.D. Jakes who had a hand in making life affirming films like "Jumping the Broom" and "Heaven is for Real".
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on May 27, 2014
Musicals have lost their place in American cinema for many reasons. So to be able to cast a story in music and retain audience interest and attention these days is an awesome accomplishment. The cast is superb and the veterans actors stimulate the performances of the more novice performers. Saadiq's musical arrangements and compositions are stellar and the performances demand respect.
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on April 29, 2014
This movie is a must-see! Yes, it's a musical, but it's very heart-touching and relevant. I cried throughout the movie, as I saw a lot that I could relate to, on a personal level. Everyone did a fine job acting as their character and the vocals are powerful, especially Jennifer Hudson's. Beautiful and inspirational story!
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on December 15, 2014
Yes, the movie had too many coincidences for a city as big as NY, but it was still a pleasure to watch. It would have been a lot shorter without all of the singing. I'm not a fan of singing in movies, but I still enjoyed this one. Actually had me holding back tears at the end. I wasn't successful though. One rolled out even though I was fighting hard! This would have been a great family movie were it not for the fact that they used the "D" word 3 times. That was totally unnecessary! Whatever happened to the days when Christian movies were 100% free of profanity? We're now living in a time where you can't even show Christian movies in church or in homes with young children. SMH.
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on December 7, 2014
Phenomenal Christmas Musical!!! My entire family ages 59-11 years old enjoyed this movie. Watching musicals are a rarity in my house, but this one is being added to our Christmas movie collection along with 'This Christmas and Best Man Holiday!!!' The acting and singing was awesome and a movie very well made. It consisted of the right amount of dialogue and singing. Some musicals can weigh you down with too much singing occurring in every scene, but this movie is perfect!!! Very inspirational movie that delivers a positive message!
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on December 5, 2014
This is truly an inspirational film and a joy to watch.

Langston, played by Jacob Latimore, has to spend the Christmas holiday in New York City with his grandparents, Reverend Cornell Cobbs played by Forest Whitaker and Aretha Cobbs played by Angela Bassett, who he doesn't really know. While there, he has to go by their rules. He wants to get back home to his mother Naima played by Jennifer Hudson. He goes through some things and discovers the true meaning of faith, family and forgiveness.

This adaptation of Langston Hughes' play is wonderful. I really like the storyline with its great messages and its attention to detail, even down to the Cobb's family brownstone in Harlem. The acting is powerful and intense and, of course, I love the music. Executive music director, Ralph Saadiq shows his musical talent and has created great songs that tell the story in such a way that both the young and old can listen to and enjoy. I especially like the choir scene.

I recommend this film for ages 12 - 17. Of course, I think the whole family will enjoy this movie. I give it 5 out of 5 stars. It's truly a musical event to be enjoyed during the holiday season.

Reviewed by Brianna B., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic. For more youth reviews, go to kidsfirst dot org.
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on December 2, 2014
It brought my mother and pawpaw to tears. For that fact it was a winner. I don't typically like musicals but it was a very balanced movie where I could follow the story lines without being to bored by the singing.
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