A movie was made from a short video, “For Jesus, honk. Protect Your Soul “shows signs of the magnification process’s strain; as far as premises go, feels a little light in terms of the collection plate. Sterling K. Brown and Regina Hall, who play the disgraced pastor and his wife who are urgently trying to make a comeback, have the major performances that make this dark comedy oddly watchable.
Pastor Childs, are the claims accurate? The question is posed to Brown’s Pastor Lee-Curtis Childs early on, but for the majority of the film, the intricacies of the controversy are purposely left unexplored.
The technicalities are actually not that important as the unfailingly positive preacher and his wife Trinitie (Hall) restore their once-large Atlanta megachurch in anticipation of a triumphant reopening on Easter Sunday.
Although there are enough uncomfortable times that they regularly find themselves speaking directly to the unseen cameras, the Childs have also asked a documentary crew to tag along, fly-on-the-wall style, as they go about the procedure, in what appears to be an act of arrogance.
It serves the purpose of forcing Brown and Hall to maintain smiles while tension simmers just beneath the manicured surface as they watch their empire slip away. However, writer-director Adamma Ebo, who produced the movie alongside her twin sister Adanne, the stars, Daniel Kaluuya, and Jordan Peele, might have done without it in this format.
They eventually turn to roadside preaching amid mentions of “the settlement” paid out to those who were incorrect, showing just how low the mighty have gone. They also observe their members leaving for a different church led by a younger couple (Nicole Beharie, Conphidance), who don’t do a very good job of hiding their desire to profit from their rivals’ suffering, which the former refers to as a “landfill of a scenario.”
Honk for Jesus, which had its debut at the Sundance Film Festival, definitely includes criticism about the transactional nature of some religious organisations baked into the concept by displaying Pastor Childs’ showy attire and pricey shoes as proof of those who make money from their flocks. While concentrating on the struggles of the main pair and, to use a song’s line, the lengths Trinitie will go to support her guy, the movie’s larger theme feels undercooked.
In that regard, the film serves as a strong showcase for Brown and Hall and establishes Ebo as a talent to watch, if not one who totally delivers in this context.
At one point, Pastor Childs admits, “I am not a flawless man.”
“Honk for Jesus” isn’t a flawless movie, but at least it’s an interesting one, so praise it for that.