In the aftermath of a huge scandal, the first lady of a prominent Southern Baptist Mega Church attempts to help her pastor-husband rebuild their congregation.
THE GOOD STUFF
REGINA HALL- At this point, I’m starting to ask myself if there’s anything that Regina Hall is incapable of doing. She’s long proved herself to be a brilliant comedic actress. Do yourself a favor and check out the Showtime series Black Monday if you want the most recent proof of that. Every now and again, she can turn the tables on you and give you a brilliant dramatic performance such as this in her idiosyncratic way.
I can only hope that we will come across the day where we can see brilliant performances such as this one from her and not think of it being underappreciated or surprising. She is a real force of nature type performer.
STERLING K. BROWN- I’m one of the very few people who have not seen one episode of this is us (Absolute procrastination on my end, I will admit to that). Even still, I don’t need to see one episode of that show to understand how consistently great he’s been no matter the task put in front of him. Somehow he has created a character in this film that is both easy to root for, completely revolting, absolutely hilarious, and straight-up tragic. Sometimes he gives it to you on a scene-to-scene basis, and sometimes all at once.
Brown is an actor of great power, and even though this is us has a legacy on its own, it might not even be the biggest thing that Brown does in his career. In my humble opinion, he is too good for that to be the case.
THE GIMMICK- Because of the effectiveness of tv shows like modern family, Reno 911, the office, abbott elementary, and of course the many great Christopher Guest mockumentaries, I had my reservations about the docu-comedy gimmick being used when it came to drama.
Thankfully, this film does not try and utilize that gimmick for dramatic purposes. The film clearly conveys when the characters know they are being filmed, and when they are not. It dawned on me how easily you can confuse your audience and disrupt the believability of certain scenes if you’re not displaying that change well, and this film weaves these moments together quite nicely.
R-RATED GUSTO- Telling a story about moral decay involving organized religion can be done without an R rating, sure. However, the authenticity of these particular characters would come into question. Given the TYPE of moral decay that this film covers and the type of comedy it displays, it only makes sense in this case that it goes rated R and that it goes all the way.
One of the more bizarre (and absolutely hilarious) scenes I’ve seen in a movie in all of 2022 is when the pastor and the first lady take a car trip to check out a rival church, and break out in an uncensored rendition of “Knuck If You Buck” by Crime Mob for some unexplained but absolutely wonderful reason.
THE BAD STUFF
FALSE ADVERTISING- In all honesty, after the blitzkrieg of misadvertised films in late 2021, I believe that anybody who reviews movies should be flat-out telling their readers if something is falsely advertised. And I got to be honest, I haven’t seen a more misadvertised film than this one.
In this very review, I’ve mentioned a number of times how heavy this movie tends to get. Especially the last fifteen minutes or so. But the trailer that you may have seen for this film is advertising nothing but belly laughs, and although those belly laughs do come very often, that’s mostly because of the brilliant comedic chemistry between the two stars of this film. The third act this movie is NOT trying to make you laugh.
THE UGLY STUFF
This movie is a hidden gem. Is it one of the best of the year? No. Is it the type of movie that should accumulate award nominations? Hopefully, but more than likely, no. Is it a film that will make a lot of money? Sadly, also, no.
However this movie does have a lot to say about a LOT of things such as:
A. The moral complexities of mega-churches, and the culture of materialism and superficiality that can surround them.
B. The trust that communities have with churches in general and what happens within the community when that trust is betrayed.
C. What happens to a marriage based on faith when the foundation of the marriage is truly shaken to its core in a very public way.
All of that is covered in detail and more. It covers a lot of bases. And yes, it is also very funny. It is a bunch of wonderful things all at once.
At the very least, I can say that this is the most underrated movie of 2022 so far.
HONK FOR JESUS. SAVE YOUR SOUL is both in theatres, and streaming on Peacock now