Kasi Lemmon’s adaptation of the Langston Hughes play Black Nativity arrived in theaters November 27, 2013. Lemmon’s pulled together a stellar cast of actors and music artist for the film – Forrest Whittaker, Angela Bassett, Jennifer Hudson, Tyrese Gibson , Mary J. Blige Nas and Jacob Latimore. The director/writer film rendition of the Hughes’ play has a struggling, unwed mother in Baltimore shipping off her son to estranged granparents in Harlem.
One of the most talked about and anticipated films in the African American community has received mixed reviews from critics and audience goers. One of three African American films (The Best Man Holiday, 12 Years a Slave) in theaters this past weekend, Black Nativity only gross $3.7 millions at the box office. The budget for the film is 17.5 million.
Reviews from Movie Critics:
By the time the film reaches its biblically inspired dreamscape of a climax, "Black Nativity" qualifies as equal parts surreal and stirring. – Washington Post (full review)
"Black Nativity" struggles mightily. You can feel that too. – Los Angeles Times (full review)
Whitaker's performance is the rock here. Even when the confrontations and evasions get a little ridiculous, he's neither wholly saint nor sinner, but something like a human being. – Chicago Tribune (full review)
It becomes increasingly clear that the entire movie probably should have been sung. – New York Times (full review)
A first-rate cast enlivens this ambitious but syrupy holiday musical. – Hollywood Reporter (full review)
Takes Hughes' nativity story and shoves it into the far background of a sincere but tritely told modern drama about family, faith, and redemption. – Boston Globe (full review)
With the release of Tyler Perry's latest Madea franchise film next weekend, audiences will have an unprecedented five African American films to choose from this holiday season. Hopefully, Black Nativity can push its way to the forefront of moviegoers.