It’s tough to keep a singing group together. It’s even tougher to get them to reunite. An En Vogue Christmas finds Kendall Thomas trying to reassemble the titular group in order to save her long-neglected club which she co-owns with her uncle, whom she and the group blame for the breakup.
The story opens on a past Christmas Eve, with En Vogue performing at The Opera House, the club owned and managed by her father and uncle. Young Kendall loves all of it, her family, the club, and the group. Years later, when she finds the club is in danger of foreclosure, she is inspired to recreate the magic of her youth and book En Vogue for a Christmas Eve fundraiser concert. The trouble is, this fictionalized En Vogue hasn’t performed in ten years — not since Uncle Marty (David Alan Grier) told the group that he’d gambled away all their money.
Kendall goes to see Terry (Ellis), who now runs a recording studio; Cindy (Herron-Braggs) a stay-at-home mom; and Rhona (Bennett), who is trying to start a solo career with her manager-boyfriend. Kendall won’t take no for an answer and manages to get them all together to talk. She’s this close to getting them to agree when Uncle Marty shows up, inflaming everyone’s hurt feelings.
From this point, Kendall cajoles everyone in the group until they can’t help but say yes, for Kendall, the club, and the memory of Kendall’s father. Finally, though, the truth comes out. Kendall’s father wasn’t the paragon she made him out to be, and Marty wasn’t the villain. This erases the decade of hard feelings, and En Vogue hits the stage to put on the show.
Movies like this, featuring people playing their fictionalized selves, are tough to review when the reviewer has only the most rudimentary knowledge of the group — i.e. barely more than name-recognition. That means, I can’t comment on whether the members meet expectations, or to compare their performances. All I can do is review the movie itself.
Overall, I thought An En Vogue Christmas brought a healthy does of heart without becoming maudlin or treacly. No one stumbled around the relationships — they felt like family who, no matter how estranged (Marty excepted for the most part), cared about their relationships past and present.
The story itself was rather linear, with few minor detours. The only real complication was Marty — was he really the scoundrel all the other characters were certain he was. No. Turns out he was just a guy in a bad circumstance who made a poor choice with how best to honor his brother’s memory. While it redeems him, the redemption is incomplete due to the years lost because of his well-intentioned loyalty.
As I mentioned before, not being familiar with the music of En Vogue, I can’t comment on the quality of the performances. What I can say is that while there were necessary musical breaks, they never felt out of place, like it was tacked on out of context with the story. It’s not something other movies accomplish nearly as well.
While An En Vogue Christmas isn’t an exceptional movie, it is definitely a good one with a lot of heart. The story and music balanced, and the performances of the main characters are done well. You should give it a watch.
|3.5 of 5|
For more movies, go to the list at: Watching the Holiday Movies
Photo credits : Ian Watson