Kirk Franklin’s ‘The Night Before Christmas’ Review

Kirk Franklin's The Night Before Christmas poster

If you are a churchgoer, then you know that feeling the Holy Spirit somewhere is a rarity. Say what you will, but to truly feel God’s presence requires being somewhere where His love indeed runs deep. And it’s a rarity, especially in film, but goodness, it’s alive and well and so powerful in Kirk Franklin’s The Night Before Christmas. This movie might be the sweetest, hottest, and most organic depiction of preaching the gospel while telling various love stories about finding our voice again. 

Lifetime’s trend this year to include various conversations about grief has been my favorite thing, and the moment you bring in God and do so naturally, I’m going to be even more invested. The thing about faith-based films, which I’ve said before, is that so often, it feels like no one talks like they do in real life. I don’t go around quoting verses from the Bible 24/7. And films generally take that route instead of allowing, as the film says, for God to intercede when we don’t know what to say. 

Naturi Naughton and Lorea Turner in Lifetime Original Kirk Franklin's The Night Before Christmas

The natural conversations while stuck in a church after a snowstorm made the film much more beautiful, heartwarming, and fulfilling. Plus, with a cast as sensational as the one we have here, we need an album of every single song because, my God, the voices were out of this world. See, this is how you know that certain people truly are blessed with gifts for which there are no words.

Kirk Franklin’s The Night Before Christmas is, first and foremost, a story about mothers and daughters; second, it’s about giving love another chance. It’s a story about confiding in each other when making big decisions and the idea of holding on too tightly to the point where you can’t see all that’s necessary to help people grow after grief. It’s about what an honest Christ-filled church community should look like and how they should behave in the face of tragedies. It’s selfless and truthful and understands the power of prayer down to the t. 

Still from Kirk Franklin's The Night Before Christmas

There’s something so unbelievably special about what this film evokes, and it’s entirely due to the detail that I sincerely feel everyone involved in it cared to tell a heartfelt story that felt right all the way down to their bones. It’s a story that emphasizes the importance of people caring enough about each other to be transparent with what’s on their minds and how they’ll choose to behave when listening to someone else.

We can talk about the idea of angels some other time, but the mother-and-daughter relationship between Journee (Naturi Naughton) and Nia (Lorea Turner) broke me in the best way. There’s something that happens when you lose a parent, and I imagine when you lose a partner—you hold on for dear life to those still around, and sometimes, you’re blinded by what’s best for them without genuinely listening to what they need. Journee and Nia needed to be stuck in this situation to understand that it’s imperative to make decisions together. Moving forward, their love and empathy toward one another can only grow if they act with the other’s desires in mind.

Naturi Naughton and Luke James in Lifetime Original Kirk Franklin's The Night Before Christmas

The selfless thing about giving pieces of yourself to someone else means you have to make choices you might be uncomfortable with. But here, the clear message is that what God puts in front of us, He also gives us the means to get through it. Watching the women find a new church together and their voices as they sang at the concert was transformative. It was awe-inspiring how lovely, honest, and brave the entire moment was because it takes courage to try again when nothing else seems to be working out.

Cut to the moment with Marcus (Aspen Kennedy Wilson) calling his parents for the first time because Nia convinced him it was worth the risk. While pushing him might’ve been a bit excessive, I wept when he heard his mom’s voice and cried alongside her. It’s moments like this in any film where the heart of Christmas comes to life in the reunions with people who care about one another.

Still from The Night Before Christmas on Lifetime

Lastly, the film clearly states that praise and worship don’t have to end just because people cannot be in the same building. During the Covid-19 lockdown periods, I remember feeling hopelessly upset that some people seemed to believe that the virus dimmed God’s voice (using this as their excuse to harp on conspiracy theories). In those times, no one counted their blessings regarding what churches can accomplish with live streams today. Technology has massive flaws, and sure, nothing will ever top in-person meetings, but we are a generation blessed with possibilities. Loving our neighbor means protecting them when there are viruses by staying home and safe, or even, in this case, when there are snowstorms. What if someone drove and hurt someone else? We can love and cherish God from wherever we are, and Kirk Franklin’s The Night Before Christmas authenticates this message gorgeously.

Similar Christmas Film Recommendation: The Gift of Peace

Finally, the brimming love story between Journee and hot Youth Pastor Adam (Luke James) was the cherry on top of an already stunning film with an excellent message. (I’m going to be thinking about the “wild wild thoughts in the presence of the Lord” line for a long time. It was too good.) The conversations about him, the chemistry between them, and the gradual progression, as well as the detail that Adam always had a crush on her in high school, made Kirk Franklin’s The Night Before Christmas a darling of a film.

Kirk Franklin’s The Night Before Christmas is now streaming on Frndly TV.


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