Tom Santilli is a respected journalist and member of the Critics Choice Association, Detroit Film Critics Society and Online Film Critics Society since 2010. Tom is the Executive Producer and co-host of the syndicated TV show, "Movie Show Plus," which has been on the air for 20+ years in the Metro-Detroit market and Mid-West. He is also the film critic for WXYZ-TV. Twitter: @tomsantilli, Facebook & Instagram: @filmsurvivor.
In the mockumentary style of films like "Best in Show," the new "Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul." is a satire that never seems to cut too deep. If it were a real documentary, it may be criticized for not really revealing the true "underneath" of it all, or what makes these people really tick.
Like its subjects, it is missing a spiritual center and instead gets caught up in the flashiness of all the materialistic riches cluttering up its surroundings.
Based on the short film of the same name (and brought to us by the same writer/director, Adamma Ebo), the story centers on power couple Lee-Curtis Childs (Sterling K. Brown) and his devoted wife, Trinitie (Regina Hall), the heads of a Southern Baptist mega-church. A film crew is on hand to chronicle the fall and hopeful rise of the Childs congregation, after the empire comes crashing down following a juicy scandal.
It's obvious Sterling K. Brown is trying to stretch himself away from his "This Is Us" persona, and he's given carte blanche to go all-out, over-the-top, as Lee-Curtis, an eccentric, charming and self-absorbed shyster. Regina Hall's performance is the true heart of the film, and she continues to show why she's one of Hollywood's most under-rated leading ladies. But it's not enough to overcome the unevenness of the rest of the film.
t's a "documentary" when it wants to be, but at other times, we have scenes within the couple's bedroom at night, or cuts that reveal that this is, in fact, a movie and not a "fly-on-the-wall" documentary. That may seem nit-picky, but it's representative of the overall lack of care and attention that is given to this chaotic narrative. The two main characters don't grow or change that much, and you leave feeling like you've just spent time with an interesting group of people, but folks whom you really still don't know anything genuine about.
"Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul." is also confusingly in theaters AND on Peacock streaming platform all at the same time, pretty much assuring that its box office numbers will tank. Perhaps the film's marketing team took a cue from the movie itself, with neither really knowing what to do with what they had.
- Grade: C+
- Genre: Comedy.
- Run Time: 1 hour 42 minutes.
- Rated R
- Starring: Sterling K. Brown, Regina Hall, Nicole Beharie, Austin Crute
- Written and Directed by Adamma Ebo (feature-film directorial debut)
"Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul." is in theaters and streaming on Peacock on Friday, September 2nd, 2022.