Holiday movies are meant to fill a little nostalgic hole, meant for a specific time and mood. Like scary movies released at Halloween, sometimes they don't even have to be very good to do their job.

Holiday movies are meant to fill a little nostalgic hole, meant for a specific time and mood. Like scary movies released at Halloween, sometimes they donít even have to be very good to do their job.

ďBlack NativityĒ fits that bill. Itís a warm film, but flawed. But, hey, ítis the season, right?

Director Kasi Lemmons adapts the beloved Langston Hughes play to the present day for the screen. A streetwise Baltimore teen (Jacob Latimore) is sent by his mother (Jennifer Hudson) to stay with his grandparents (Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett) in Harlem.

To call ďBlack NativityĒ preachy isnít necessarily a critique; the entire film is essentially built around a closing sermon (and the peak of the melodrama that builds to it).

Iím a tough sell for musicals, and I found this movieís tendency to only occasionally dip into song to be distracting. Thereís just something about two people bursting into a song on a bus while other passengers gaze ahead obliviously I just canít buy into.

Despite a really great cast, the production feels small for the big screen, perhaps better suited to another tradition: the holiday TV special.

Photo courtesy of Fox Searchlight