Trinitie Childs (Regina Hall) is the “First Lady” of Wander to Greater Paths, an Atlanta Southern Baptist megachurch run by her husband, Lee-Curtis (Sterling K. Brown). They are 25,000 parishioners robust—or slightly, they have been 25,000 parishioners robust. When author/director Adamma Ebo’s movie “Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul.” opens, they’re down to 5 of their former devoted. A mysterious scandal has depleted their ranks, and a documentary crew helmed by an unseen lady named Anita is taking pictures footage for the Lee-Curtis Childs redemption tour. The disgraced pastor tells his spouse that his comeback goes to be just like the movie “Rocky.” “But Rocky misplaced,” she informs him. This comparability is the primary of many portents of doom.
Trinitie and Lee-Curtis attempt to sustain airs each time they’re on digital camera. Ebo modifications the side ratio to tell us once we’re seeing the mockumentary footage and once we’re witnessing non-public particulars meant just for us. For Anita’s viewfinder, the Childs sit in golden thrones on the entrance of their empty church, explaining to future viewers sure sorts of worship like “reward miming,” which is precisely what you assume it’s. Like all Protestant pastors of this specific sect, Lee-Curtis is all razzle-dazzle, an entertainer who’s at all times on and who has the apparel to again up the flash. “I really like Prada,” he says because the digital camera swoops via his huge closet crammed with fits of so many colours they’d disgrace Joseph’s coat. The solely factor extra outrageous is the Childs’ shoe assortment.
Trinitie, then again, is the quintessential pastor’s spouse: devoted, supportive and greater than a bit bit petty. Keeping up appearances appears to be her modus operandi, so it’s no shock that destiny will make her life a residing Hell of embarrassments. A scene between her and Sister Denetta (Olivia D. Dawson) a former parishioner she runs into throughout a buying frenzy on the mall is a hilarious and practical train in good, old style Southern passive-aggressiveness. If you’re a Church Lady, or if one, this scene will ring true whereas providing all of the cringeworthy comedy the state of affairs deserves.
And to the place did all of the worshippers of Wander to Greater Paths wander? To a brand new church run by a youthful married couple, Keon and Shakura Sumpter (Conphidance and Nicole Beharie, respectively). Heaven’s House church not solely makes a really loud and joyous noise unto the Lord on Sundays, it’s grown so large that the Sumpters should open a second location. Unfortunately for the Childs, that grand opening corresponds with their plans to make use of that very same Easter Sunday for Lee-Curtis’ triumphant return to the pulpit.
“What good are disciples when they don’t seem to be disciplined?” Lee-Curtis asks when confronted with the accusation that he fired his deacons. “Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul.” asks the identical discipline-based query about Lee-Curtis. It’s fairly simple to determine simply what sort of sexual misconduct he’s been accused of perpetrating, and Ebo will get some mileage out of snippets of a call-in radio present the place Atlanta residents voice their opinions. Footage of Rev. Childs’ sermon towards homosexuality is used as greater than only a reminder of the quite a few occasions my church knowledgeable me that Jesus hated me and my LGBTQ brethren. Of course, Lee-Curtis blames the Devil for his sins. “The Devil is a roach below the floorboards” he says. The solely manner he’d know that’s if he have been below the floorboards searching for him.
When Ebo concentrates on the satirical points that mock the hypocrisy she’s exposing, “Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul.” hilariously fires on all cylinders. It’s when the movie tries to juggle the darker points that its seams begin to present. The final quarter-hour or so juxtapose some very absurd imagery with deep, painful confrontations. It’s to Hall and Brown’s credit score that the movie manages to remain afloat. Hall’s face is a wonderland of expressions each delicate and grandiose, and he or she is aware of which of them to deploy on the good time. Not many actresses may survive enjoying scenes of devastation in full mime make-up. The final shot of the movie mirrors her face with a garish Black Jesus statue Lee-Curtis demanded she use to advertise their comeback. Hall milks it for all of the pathos it’s value, and extra.
The often stoic Brown jumps on the likelihood to go massive, exhibiting his comedic chops as if he’ll by no means get the possibility to take action once more. Lee-Curtis is a strutting peacock, however he’s additionally egocentric, delusional, and self-loathing. He believes in saving souls, however can’t see that his personal is in dire want of salvation. When he drops the showmanship throughout his follow sermon and offers an Oscar-show clip of an impassioned plea for forgiveness, Trinitie sees proper via him. “You have to make it extra convincing,” she tells him.
Beharie is simply nearly as good because the leads. Her facial reactions are as priceless as Hall’s, and he or she subtly relishes the schadenfreude of the Childs’ dangerous luck. When Trinitie politely asks her to maneuver the grand opening of their church, Shakura simply as politely tells her no cube. So a lot of the movie’s humor comes from this playacting of niceties. It’s too dangerous that Ebo can’t efficiently stick the touchdown for the darker scenes.
Still, what’s right here is alternative materials, particularly when you grew up within the church or at the moment attend one of many many prosperity gospel megachurches. There’s actual chew right here, and I can’t consider one other film ballsy sufficient to incorporate “Knuck If You Buck” and “Never Would Have Made It” on the identical soundtrack. Hall and Brown’s automobile trip efficiency of the previous is in the present day’s equal of the “Bohemian Rhapsody” scene in “Wayne’s World.” That these two “individuals of God” are rapping a profane track simply goes to indicate that even probably the most religious of us can’t resist a great, sinful set of bars. “I’m not a pervert,” Lee-Curtis pleads at one level, “I’m a sinner!” I’ll go away that judgement as much as God and the viewer.
Now enjoying in theaters and streaming on Peacock.
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