Plot: The movie, set in the modern day, is loosely based on Langston Hughes’ 1961 play of the same name, which recasts the classic Nativity tale with black performers who sing spirituals and hymns, such as “Go Tell It on the Mountain.” The movie adds original songs. The story unfolds from the perspective of Langston, played by 17-year-old Jacob Latimore. Langston is the streetwise son of Naima (Jennifer Hudson), an embittered single mother, long estranged from her prominent parents. Faced with eviction, she puts him on a bus from Baltimore to Harlem to spend time with the grandparents he has never met, setting into motion accidental meetings, revelations of old secrets and a fantastical dream sequence of a blessed birth.
Others in the cast: Forest Whitaker as the Rev. Cornell Cobbs; Angela Bassett as his wife, Aretha; Tyrese Gibson as Loot, a streetwise hustler; Nasir Jones (rapper Nas), as the street prophet Isaiah; and Mary J. Blige as an angel.
Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes.