Strap Tyler Perry to a theater seat and use this to give him the Clockwork Orange treatment. The impeccably executed opening credit sequence, effortlessly distilling a 40-year marriage down to two minutes, gave reason to think this could be something more than just 2016’s annual nightmare-before-Christmas film. We’ve seen variations on this plot dozens of times before: it’s the first Christmas since mom died, and potentially the last chance the Meyers family will celebrate together in their childhood home. Every facet of the ensemble is given a chance to shine, with Mo’Nique and J.B. Smoove working overtime to deliver laughs. Sentimental and schmaltzy, but never sickeningly so. Even the de rigueur impromptu dance number or “say no to drugs” subplot can’t put a dent in the overall charm. No guilt-peddling here, just a surprisingly diverting shared experience. With Danny Glover, Gabrielle Union, Kimberly Elise, and Romany Malco. David E. Talbert directs. (2016) — Scott Marks
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