#SUNDANCE: “HONK FOR JESUS, SAVE YOUR SOUL”
By Amanda Gilmore
First Lady Trinitie Childs (Regina Hall) and her husband Pastor Lee-Curtis Childs (Sterling K. Brown) are planning to reopen their Southern Baptist megachurch Wander To Greater Paths. The church was forced to close temporarily after they were disgraced after a scandal broke involving Lee-Curtis. They’re riding their hopes on a big comeback, but will their congregation return?
In their Feature debut, the Ebo Twins (Writer/Director Adamma Ebo, Producer Adanne Ebo) bring us a Dramedy that’s partially shot like a faux Documentary. Using changes in aspect ratio, audiences can identify what is and isn’t Mockumentary footage. In the first-half, this blending of on and off-camera makes the Film watch like a biting satire on for-profit religious organizations. We witness the over-the-top luxurious, extravagant world in which the couple live. Their walk-in closet is loaded with Prada and they have drive the flashiest cars.
This unique style of Filmmaking allows our talented leads some space to deliver some “divine” performances. The Comedy here comes in witnessing how drastic the couple’s on and off-camera personas are. One moment they’re preaching the gospel, one moment they’re alone shouting Gangsta Rap. Hall and Brown are great at capturing their characters’ desperation and desire for an image overhaul. Hall is “almighty” as a woman trying to save face and reclaim the spot on the stage she once stood on. Brown has never-ending endurance as an exuberant Pastor and is just delusional.
The second-half pivots, placing its focus on the sexual misconduct scandal surrounding Lee-Curtis. In doing so, the Film becomes more of a dramatic character study of our two leads. Brown continues to excel at exposing Lee-Childs’ narcissism and hypocrisy. However, he never seems to learn from his actions and we were hoping we’d get a bit of growth. The story also sets-up a competition between the Childs and an emerging younger couple, but doesn’t quite deliver the tension and rivalry we were hoping for. It is Trinitie who is given the real character arch and Hall nails it making us feel for this woman trapped in a marriage out of obligation.
Honk For Jesus, Save Your Soul screens virtually at Sundance:
Premiere: Jan. 23 at 1:45PM EST
Second Screening: Jan. 25 at 10AM EST (available for 24hrs)