Christmas in Compton: Film Review
The urban holiday comedy centers on a struggling music producer and his Christmas tree salesman father.
Chiefly notable for the dubious distinction of being the first holiday movie to hit multiplexes, Christmas in Compton delivers a lump of coal in filmgoers’ stockings.
The low-budget effort shot in its titular California location concerns the domestic strife between gruff Christmas tree salesman Big Earl (Keith David, supplying his usual gruff gravitas) and his underachieving son Derrick (Omar Gooding, bearing a strong resemblance to brother Cuba), who in-between working for his father is attempting to make it as a record producer, with little success.
He’s repeatedly taken advantage of by crooked white record executive Tommy Maxwell (Eric Roberts), who takes advantage of Derrick’s lack of attention to the fine print in his contracts to deny him his royalties and steal his acts. Determined to prevent Tommy from co-opting his latest find, the talented girl group trio Sugar Stuff, Derrick resorts to arranging a break-in at his house and and stealing a diamond ring worth $300,000 from his wife. Not so hilarious complications ensue.
Featuring stereotypical characterizations, formulaic ethnic humor (a Korean character is the butt of predictable laughs) and risibly unfunny dialogue, the film strains its way towards a would-be heartwarming, holiday-themed conclusion that one can see coming from a mile away.
There is some fun to be had, thanks to such talented performers as David, whose character delivers a series of priceless comic diatribes about Kwanzaa, and Roberts, whose years spent toiling in B-movies has prepared him to chew the scenery here with comic gusto. Also highly appealing are Sheryl Lee Ralph and Porscha Coleman as the father and son’s respective love interests. But despite the talent involved, Christmas in Compton, whose end credits include the message that this is an exercise in “Conscious Filmmaking” designed to give back to the community, has provided little other than employment.
Opens: Friday, Nov. 9 (Barnholtz Entertainment, Bright Idea Entertainment)
Cast: Omar Gooding, Keith David, Sheryl Lee Ralph, Eric Roberts, Miguel A. Nunez Jr., Orlando Brown
Director: David Raynr
Screenwriters: David Raynr, Suzanne Broderick, Robert Fedor
Producers: Beth Hubbard, Michael Hubbard, Marcia Cabral Penchel, Murillo Penchel
Executive producers: Ivan Ramirez, Joe Hubbard, Re’Shaun Frear
Director of photography: Sandrea Valde-Hansen
Editor: Richard Halsey
Production designer: Shaun Motley
Costume designer: Mikel Padilla
Composers: James Poyser, Zukhan Bey, Luke Christopher
Rated PG-13, 90 min.