Review: ‘Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul.’ Starring Regina Hall & Sterling K. Brown
I promise, I am a sucker for a good mockumentary. Whether it is the Office, Parks & Rec, or Abbot Elementary there is just something extremely funny about the humor associated with that style of film. Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul continues in that tradition. Starring Sterling K. Brown & Regina Hall as Pastor Lee-Curtis Childs & First Lady Trinitie Childs respectively, Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul follows the couple as they look to re-open their church doors after a sexual misconduct scandal causes an exodus of their congregation. In preparation for their big re-opening, Lee-Curtis decides to hire a documentary film crew to prepare for what he calls “the greatest comeback story since Rocky” (Rocky II to be specific, the first one is all set up,) and that is where the hijinks begin. Please be warned there are some spoilers below!
As with most mockumentary films, the plot is primarily told through the interviews with the Childs family and members of the church community surrounding them. Though there are scenes that move the plot outside of the documentary interviews, and that is really where this film shines. The car ride to Knuck if You Buck, while the Childs are on their way to the Sumpter’s unopened church, may be my favorite scene in the entire movie. It comes completely out of nowhere, and the way that Lee-Curtis & Trinitie have no words outside of rapping sells the scene. Then there is Lee-Curtis’ re-baptism, the way that the scene is set up, with him preaching and suddenly starting to strip down to his boxers. The confusion on the remaining congregation’s face was the same as mine, because again there is no setup to let you know what’s coming you just have to watch and react.
Another high point for this movie is the chemistry of its stars. Regina Hall’s Trinitie Childs is the quintessential exasperated first lady trying to keep it together for the cameras; and that balances amazingly with the over the top but charismatic personality of Sterling K. Brown’s Lee-Curtis Childs. Even beyond the two lead’s interactions with each other, the various characters of the general church community shine in their screentime as well. Shakura & Keon Sumpter, two younger up & coming pastors played by Nicole Beharie & Conphidance stand out as an obstacle to the Childs’ planned comeback. As the leaders of the Heaven’s House church, a rival church that now houses a lot of the Childs’ former congregation, their entire existence serves as a reminder to Lee-Curtis that people didn’t stop receiving the word, they just aren’t going to Wander to Greater Paths to receive it.
While there are times where it seems like the story drags a little longer than it should, more often than not we are rewarded for that extended wait with a moment of well-placed realism, such as when Khalil, one of the victims of Lee-Curtis’ scandal (played by Austin Crute) confronts him publicly, or when Lee-Curtis is privately approached by a city worker to thank him for all that he’s done with the church. These scenes help drive what I think is Honk for Jesus’ greatest strength, authenticity. In a movie where you have to portray something that is held so dear to so many people, in a way that is not only accurate and true, but also funny it is so easy to come across as mocking. Luckily for us, this doesn’t happen and that strive for authenticity gives us memorable moments such as praise miming (it’s a real thing apparently, who knew?)
Overall Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul does a lot of things well while also navigating the potential drawbacks in a way that seems masterful. The nature of Lee-Curtis’ scandal could’ve easily sucked out all of the humor of the film, but it is told and handled in a way that gives them the weight they should. The authenticity is, again, there in a way that is funny, accurate, and inoffensive. Lastly the story, while a touch long at points, rewards those stretches with scenes that are both laugh out loud funny and memorable as well. Regina Hall proves once again that she is a master of her craft, and Sterling K. Brown continues to show why he is a stand out in any role he is given. I can’t state how much, I truly enjoyed this film, and I would enthusiastically give it 4 eagles out of 5. For more of our coverarge, head over to our Youtube page for our interviews with Writer/Director, Adamma Ebo, Producer, Adanne Ebo, and one of the stars, Conphidance.
Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul. is out this Friday, September 2nd and will be released theatrically and also streaming on Peacock.