Praise the laughs and styles of this gospel comedy.
“Honk for Jesus, Save Your Soul” has enough laughs and styles to take the good from the bad. Sexual allegations is the main issue, but it’s dealt with in an honest, sincere manner. Written and directed by Adamma Ebo and produced by Adanne Ebo (the Ebo twins) and Daniel Kaluuya, this remake of a short film knows when to praise the Lord.
Using such talented leads as Regina Hall and Sterling K. Brown, there’s a notion inside the story to allow us to see its silly side, while acknowledging that it wants to be serious at the same time. That’s basically the definition of a dramedy, but it doesn’t overdose on both sides of the genre. Or better yet, “Honk for Jesus, Save Your Soul” is a yet another mockementary to tickle and move you.
Hall stars as Trinitie Childs, the first lady of a Baptist megachurch, who’s pastor husband Lee-Curtis (Brown) is dealing with sexual misconduct allegations. There are those who believe into the lies (that is if they were lies), those who stick by their side, and some who ambiguously get hugged by Lee-Curtis. How it’s presented makes it comically wise, especially when we live in the #MeToo era. It’s often difficult to distinguish the good and bad, unless you’re able to see their true colors.
Their church, Wander To Greater Paths (WTGP), had to close temporarily, but they plan to reopen by Easter Sunday. And do that, they have a documentary filmmaker named Anita (Andrea Laing) record their preparations.
They also face competition with Heaven’s House, started by the much younger co-pastors Keon (Conphidance) and Shakura Sumpter (Nicole Beharie). They plan to open up on Easter Sunday, too, with WTGP’s congregants, and the Childs both know they’re in trouble. They try to reason with them, but they won’t budge, so Lee-Curtis and Trinitie decide to change some plans.
“Honk for Jesus, Save Your Soul” has some the same formula situations, which end up being lagging, but unlike some lame examples like “Marry Me,” there’s actually meaning inside the drama. Even mockumentaries, like “The Office” or more recently, “Marcel the Shell With Shoes On,” know when to combine humor with heart. Hall and Brown both deliver with spontaneous energy and true intentions, and they know how to thrive on the drama that emerges within.
About the two churches opening on the same day, I’ve seen some lousy comedies about the silliest things like “Bride Wars” when they didn’t want two weddings to happen or “New Year’s Eve” when the first baby born had to be Baby New Year. Unlike those bombs, “Honk for Jesus, Save Your Soul” doesn’t settle for the most obvious approach. In fact, you don’t even need middle fingers or “F” bombs to solve a problem. You just need to survive any situation that pops up, and that’s what the leading characters intend to do. It’s all about being flexible.
Hall is able to be a serious actress, too, as presented in “The Hate U Give,” but as a comedy star, her last fresh comedy was “Girls Trip,” which allowed her to be versatile. “Shaft,” “Little,” and more recently “Me Time” were all missed opportunities compared to how she dresses all fancy and balances her moods and tones in “Honk for Jesus, Save Your Soul.” As much as Brown can present his most dramatic acting in such examples as “Black Panther” and “Waves,” he’s able to go with the comedy flow. These two are delightful together, and the Ebo twins both guide them with attitude.
Again, it’s not a comedy masterpiece, because of how certain moments lag, but because of the timing and acting, it deserves some praises from me. The Saints be praised.
In Theaters and Streaming on Peacock This Friday