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Making a holiday film audiences will love, and relate to, isn’t always an easy feat, and can oftentimes be a recipe for disaster. Thankfully that’s not the case for David E. Talbert and Will Packer’s newest family flick Almost Christmas. Fact is, the duo have all the right ingredients – a dash of a love, a teaspoon of tears and a whole heaping of laughter – courtesy of Mo’Nique, who will have audiences laughing out loud.

“I think we forget sometimes that she is the “Queen of Comedy” and she’s letting everybody know that with this,” said Talbert, who admitted he also let her improv as much as she wanted to. “It’s Mo’Nique, you don’t LET her do anything. Mo’Nique does it, and you say, ‘Thank you very much, Queen, for blessing this project with your artistry.'”

In the film, Mo’Nique plays the hilarious Aunt Mae, who comes to visit her brother in-law (Danny Glover) and his children for Christmas after their mother passes. Packer, who has had success in the holiday film genre with 2007’s This Christmas, told HipHollywood it was the heartwarming storyline that attracted him to the project.

“The thing that’s different about this movie is that it’s about a family that has lost their matriarch. Usually it’s the woman that’s holding it all together, especially in the black family. In this one you have Danny Glover, the icon. He’s playing the patriarch, and along with that you have this family trying to figure out how to function without the glue, without the heart and soul that’s been there for so long.”

And then of course there’s a stellar supporting cast, including Glover, Gabrielle Union, Kimberly Elise, J.B. Smoove, Romany Malco and Omar Epps, and one hilarious table scene that Talbert says was inspired by watching British films and American comedies like The Nutty Professor. “It’s really a British farce. All these different things are happening, all these different story lines, the audience knows more than the characters on screen, and then it just combusts,” he explained.

Almost Christmas hits theaters (just in time for Thanksgiving) on November 11.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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EXCLUSIVES

Netflix’s ‘Step Sisters’ Is ‘Bring It On’ … But Way More Woke!

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Netflix is getting ready to “Bring It On” … in more ways than one. The streaming service’s new flick Step Sisters is reminiscent of the 90s dance film, but delves deeper into racial themes like cultural appropriation, tokenization and interracial dating.

In the film Megalyn Echikunwoke (Arrow) plays the president of a black sorority who is tasked with teaching one of the campus’ white sororities how to step for a charity competition. At first glimpse the film seems to be stepping into a can of worms — and had folks on Twitter up in arms, but the creators and cast told HipHollywood it isn’t about cultural appropriation but instead cultural exchange.

“There’s a strong political message, and there’s a lot of racial content,” said Nia Jervier. “But I think that the pill that may be difficult to swallow is dipped in honey, because it’s funny.”

What also helps is that producer/writers like Lena Waithe (Masters of None), Chuck Hayward (Dear White People) and Ben Cory Jones (Underground) are behind the project – so you know it’s woke.

“At the end of the day, Jamila the lead character in our minds she’s reaching over to show them a part of our culture. It doesn’t dilute our culture,” said Jones. ” And I love that we can take stepping and evolve that into issues of race and culture.”

Step Sisters begins streaming on Netflix January 20th.

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