The Holiday Movie Guide

As your loved ones gather round the table for a good meal and a great time, pop in one of these classics starring the Black family

ESSENCE.COM Nov, 24, 2008

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You’ll be sure to find a character you can relate to in 2007’s hit holiday movie “This Christmas.” Chris Brown does his best to cover the Donnie Hathaway song, for which the film is named, and Regina King, Idris Elba, Loretta Divine, Delroy Lindo and more remind us that all families have their problems, but love will carry you through.

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Bad boy Terrence Howard plays the devil oh-so well in this film, as we root for the good guy to win. This holiday love story narrated and produced by Queen Latifah is jam-packed with stars, and Gabrielle Union and Morris Chestnut remind us why they make such a great pair on-screen.

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Ease on down the road with this Black all-star cast as Diana Ross à la Dorothy finds her way home. Michael Jackson as a singing scarecrow and Richard Pryor as a lonely, powerless Wizard are great additions to this 1978 hit that adds soul to the classic story of finding home again.

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Some movies never get old and the story of how the Jackson clan came to be the music industry’s First Family is one of them. This epic tale is perfect for a day inside with the family. Our favorite famous faces singing classic Jackson hits make this pick as easy as 1-2-3.

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As your loved ones gather around the table for a good meal and a great time, pop in one of these classics starring the Black family.

The good, bad and downright trifling relatives all make an appearance in “Soul Food,” one of our favorite films, with an all-star cast of Vanessa L. Williams, Vivica A. Fox, Nia Long and more. Most of us can relate to the tender love and care of a Big Mama, as this movie celebrates the strength and resilience of a family that triumphs over life’s hurdles.

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Though Phylicia Rashad was mesmerizing and Diddy gave it his best in the revival of “A Raisin in the Sun,” the original remains a classic. The film version of Lorraine Hansberry’s award-winning play with Sidney Poitier and Ruby Dee shows that when you lose it all and have family, you still have everything you need.

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Before he was the voice of CNN, in 1974 James Earl Jones starred as Rupert Marshall, a garbage collector who falls in love with Claudine Price, played by Diahann Caroll. Claudine’s raising six kids on welfare in Harlem with much class and ingenuity. Their complicated story not only shows the value of hard work, but the determination of love.

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Before Chris Rock brought his 1980’s childhood in Brooklyn to life on the TV show “Everybody Hates Chris,” Spike Lee told the story of a family in the New York City borough through a young girl named Troy. With four little brothers running around and girls popping gum on her stoop, it’s an honest coming-of-age story, with wacky relatives, a road trip and an unexpected loss.

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This ensemble cast tells many stories and everyone in the family will be sure to find someone with whom they can relate. Coexecutive produced by Halle Berry and made for HBO, the film heads back to the 1950’s and 1960’s, exploring the lives of those touched by jukejoint and boarding house ownder Rachel “Nanny” Crosby (S. Epatha Merkerson). Terrence Howard, Macy Gray, Hill Harper, Mos Def and many more help round out the cast.

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This classic Eddie Murphy film explores the blending of cultures, while providing huge laughs. African Prince Akeem is determined to find love on his voyage to America and does with Lisa McDowell, whose father owns a McDonald’s knockoff restaurant called McDowell’s.

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Tyler Perry does it again, bringing his hit stage play and his character that started it all, family matriarch Madea, to the big screen. It reminds us of the importance of family who love us through the good and bad.

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The bond of sisters can’t be broken by decades of separation, zero communication, or thousands of miles, as seen with Celie and Nettie in this iconic film. After being taken from the one person who she felt loved her, Celie overcomes abuse to reclaim her identity and self-worth. The film adaptation of Alice Walker’s award-winning novel starring Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover, Oprah Winfrey and more covers every realm of the human experience.

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We’ve all had that family member who got a little big for their britches, as grandma would say. Well, for the Jenkins clan, it’s Roscoe (Martin Lawrence), who doesn’t even go by his government name anymore. Experience big laughs as he returns home with his family, played by some of the hottest comedians, including Mo’Nique, Cedric the Entertainer and Mike Epps.

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Will Smith and Jade Pinkett-Smith brought the The Secret Life of Bees, which was based on Sue Monk Kidd’s novel, to the big screen in 2008. Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson and Alicia Keys are part of the drama film’s cast.


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