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‘Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul’ (Blu-ray review)

Prosperity gospel has inspired many a creator to poke holes in the ostentatious lives of multi-millionaire preachers of Southern megachurches.

In “Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul”, writer-director Adamma Ebo’s takes tones equally biting and beloved, inspired by her own upbringing in Georgia alongside her twin sister Adanne (who is a producer on the film).

If your Sunday mornings were spent sweating in a polyester suit while passing the plate, this film is a very honest love letter to you.

After a not-too-Christian scandal that has church members fleeing the pews, the brazen and wealthy Pastor Lee-Curtis Childs (Sterling K. Brown) and his long-suffering wife, “First Lady” Trinitie (a dynamic Regina Hall), are on their way to reopening the doors of their church. To commemorate the occasion, they are being filmed for a documentary, fly-on-the-wall style.

Ebo knows all the signs of the wealthy Southern theocracy – Lee-Curtis is materialistic to complete excess, boasting an extensive wardrobe, multiple stylish sports cars, and a need to be the connect. Brown is equally charming and smarmy throughout the film, leaning into the role of a preacher who feels too blessed to fail, even in the midst of a self-created scandal. He perfectly displays the divide between acknowledging sin and being accountable for it.

Supporting him through it all is Trinitie, weary but unwilling to fully face the depths of how her husband’s deceit has affected their lives and the lives of others. Hall is excellent, maintaining her eye for comedy while simply smoldering in other scenes.

A trip to the hat shop goes from a frivolous outing for over-the-top headgear to a painful reminder of the cloud hanging over them in an instant, and Hall has the depth to change the audience’s sympathies in a moment.

The Childs cannot seem to get a break, as their absence has allowed for new blood to gain dominance.

Shakura and Keon Sumptor (Nicole Beharie and Conphidance) lead a neighboring church that has prospered without Pastor Childs in a pulpit. Their thinly concealed competitiveness is welcome banter to the proud but suffering Chillds’.

The rivalry can start to get repetitive, but the entire movie is a send-up of a well-known trope in American religion.

Extras include alternate opening, deleted scenes, and a gag reel.

Honk for Jesus does not bring anything new to the mockumentary genre outside of representation, but for those that get a familiar feeling watching the “bless your hearts” of it all, that representation is enough. In a field full of Spinal Tap and Best in Show, there is space for a wider audience to poke fun at their most beloved.

Amen to that.

 

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