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(Modern look at the Nativity)
Harlem writer Langston Hughes wrote a play about the Nativity as seen through the eyes of African Americans in Harlem. “Black Nativity” is loosely based on the play, with the addition of some moving musical numbers.
Jacob Latimer stars as Langston, a teenage boy who has lived a tough life in Baltimore before being shipped off by his single, unemployed, destitute mother (Jennifer Hudson) to stay with his grandparents in Harlem over the Christmas holidays. His grandfather (Forest Whitaker) is the pious, cold minister of the local church. Angela Basset is the caring grandmother. Grandfather has been harboring a big secret, accounting for the reason his daughter left.
Poor Langston has a tough time adjusting to his new life. He misses his mother and digs deeply to find out why she has been estranged and will not talk to her parents. Tyrese Gibson plays a Harlem con artist who connects with Langston in a big way and eventually becomes a big part of his life.
It all comes down to the evening of the big church pageant, the Black Nativity, where Langston and his family discover the power of religion, redemption and forgiveness.
The acting is great, as is the music, with a little help from Mary J. Blige. The story does get a bit over-sentimental, but this is a Christmas story and cries for a happy ending.
Rated PG, with minor profanity, but good messages.