HONK FOR JESUS. SAVE YOUR SOUL. (2022)
Starring Regina Hall, Sterling K. Brown, Austin Crute, Nicole Beharie, Conphidance, Devere Roger, Avis Marie Barnes, Olivia D. Dawson, Mike Dyl Anthony, Natasha L. Fuller, Robert Yatta, Greta Marable Glenn, Crystal Alicia Garrett, Selah Kimbro Jones, Andrea Laing, Jerome Beazer, Perris Drew, Tairat Baoku, Dhane Ross, John Menchion and Jah Shams.
Screenplay by Adamma Ebo.
Directed by Adamma Ebo.
Distributed by Focus Features. 102 minutes. Rated R.
There are obviously both great feelings of love and disdain for the world of southern megachurches in Adamma Ebo’s sometimes savage but always fair and funny mock-documentary Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul.
Of course, there is a lot to love and hate in this world, and Honk For Jesus is able to juggle the absurdity and the tragedy of the situation our two deluded leads find themselves in.
Pastor Lee-Curtis Childs (Sterling K. Brown) and his “first lady” Trinitie (Regina Hall) are trying to reopen their once-popular Southern Baptist megachurch called Wander the Greater Paths. It is one of those huge churches that preaches that God is essentially an ATM – if you live a pious life, you will be rewarded by riches beyond your wildest dreams. The couple at the head of the church made sure to demonstrate this opulence to their flock whenever possible. If you can dream it, you can be it.
The two had put all of their efforts into the running of the church (Trinitie is actually the brains behind the operation) and built it to be a great success, with a thriving congregation and their own cable television show – until everything came crashing down due to a sexual scandal revolving around Pastor Childs.
Months down the line the stories have slowed down a bit and the couple feel it is time to reopen the parish, however they seem to have lost much of their flock to a newer, shinier ministry nearby. And the old rumors about the Pastor and some of the boys in his flock are still out there.
Therefore, they take on a team of documentary filmmakers to chronicle the reopening of the church, hoping for a bit of positive PR. Unfortunately, they quickly realize that the camera crew are not looking to do a puff piece on them, instead making a warts-and-all portrait of the couple and their desperate attempt to revive their career.
As is usually with this kind of film, this leads to many crazed, desperate moments of “true life” intruding on the odd little bubble of delusion that the heroes live in. This desperation is sometimes palpable – like the moments where the couple stands on the side of the road by their church with signs reading “Honk for Jesus” just to get a little bit of attention from a world which has mostly left them behind.
However, what is most unusual about Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul. is the high quality of acting on display. Sterling K. Brown and especially Regina Hall nail these somewhat problematic characters and give them a depth and sympathetic air that they do not always deserve through their acts. These are money-hungry, selfish, slightly superficial people, but in an odd way they do believe in what they are doing, as well.
And one scene when Trinitie finally blows her top has some of the best acting we’ve seen in quite some time.
Honk For Jesus is not often laugh-out-loud funny. It is a bit too subtle for that. It is also a bit too serious. However, it captures this world and its people all too accurately.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2022 PopEntertainment.com. All rights reserved. Posted: September 2, 2022.