Movie review of “Almost Christmas”: Danny Glover plays a widowed patriarch who wants his four grown children to get along as the holidays approach. Rating: 2 stars out of 4.

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Like a self-help book for dysfunctional families facing the holidays together, “Almost Christmas” is a collection of sketches — not really a story — that explore awkward pre-Yuletide social situations.

An impromptu ballgame releases some tensions. A drug overdose is played (tastelessly) for laughs. In-laws try to fit in. A long-lost recipe is discovered. A creaky subplot addresses real-estate developments.

And everyone tries to deal with the fact that this is the first Christmas they’ve celebrated since Mom died.

Movie Review ★★  

‘Almost Christmas,’ with Danny Glover, Kimberly Elise, Gabrielle Union, Jesse T. Usher, Romany Malco. Written and directed by David E. Talbert. 112 minutes. Rated PG-13 for suggestive material, drug content and language. Several theaters.

The writer-director, David E. Talbert, resorts to excessive doses of Christmas cheer on the soundtrack; especially emphasized is “Joy to the World.”

Danny Glover plays Walter, the newly widowed patriarch, a retired automotive engineer who is still grieving. He’s hoping to get his four grown kids to behave themselves when they move into his mansion-style house as the holidays approach.

The women are played by Gabrielle Union and Kimberly Elise, the men by Romany Malco and Jesse T. Usher. They all seem to be having a swell time. So was the audience at a press screening earlier this week. Still, the script’s weaknesses are difficult to ignore.

Glover also turned up a few weeks ago in Tom Brown’s “Pushing Dead,” a much better film (about people just barely surviving in San Francisco) that won the audience award for best picture at TWIST: Seattle Queer Film Festival. Watch for it to return for a regular run.