Black Nativity

Rated 3.0

When a single mother (Jennifer Hudson) and her teenage son (Jacob Latimore) face eviction, she sends him to live with her estranged parents (Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett) in New York's Harlem, where her father is a minister. Writer-director Kasi Lemmons' adaptation of Langston Hughes' landmark Christmas oratorio isn't quite the holiday classic it might have been, but it has many stirring moments, most of them expressed in song (even Whitaker and Bassett sing, and quite creditably). The movie really takes off during a dream sequence in which the teenager sees the birth of Jesus enacted in Times Square, with a homeless couple (Grace Gibson, Luke James) as Mary and Joseph. Tyrese Gibson, Vondie Curtis-Hall and Mary J. Blige round out the sterling cast, and the original songs are by Raphael Saadiq and Laura Karpman.