‘Almost Christmas’ stars on holiday magic


— Creators of the new film “Almost Christmas” hope it becomes part of the cannon of beloved holiday movies.

Stars Keri Hilson, Omar Epps and producer Will Packer sat down with CNN recently to discuss their new film and why it’s so timely.

“The movie opens November 11, which is literally right after the election,” said Packer, who has produced blockbusters like “Ride Along” and “Straight Outta Compton. “I think people need this movie.”

The cast also features Danny Glover, Gabrielle Union and Academy Award winner Mo’Nique. The movie centers around a family who must come together and heal old wounds after the death of its matriarch.

Epps said the Christmas season offers rich opportunities for storytelling.

“Christmas is one of those holidays when you might not have seen a person for a year,” the former “House” star said. “I think like a good film has to tackle all of that emotion and still bring it back around to the warmth and love of the holidays.”

Singer/actress Hilson said it’s also about tradition, which the film comically and realistically captures.

In one scene, Aunt May, portrayed by Mo’Nique, cooks some special meals for the family based on her many sojourns around the world as a backup singer. The culinary results are less than desirable.

Hilson said, in her family, it’s all about keeping on with things like her mother’s popcorn balls.

“It’s like the popcorn version of a Rice Krispies treat,” she said. “There are five of us and holding on to traditions are very important to my mom.”

Epps said he’s hopeful that “Almost Christmas” will itself become a holiday tradition.

“It’s going to transcend time…and it feels like when you are seeing the movie, you are being fed,” he said. “You walk away feeling inspired and hopeful.

Packer said it’s a film for everyone.

“A family movie, comedy, heart, drama,” he said. “That’s what I like about it. Because it’s got some of everything.”

“Almost Christmas” opens Friday.