Thursday, September 29, 2022

‘Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul.’ Review: An Entertaining Feature Debut From the Ebo Sisters

MOVIES‘Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul.’ Review: An Entertaining Feature Debut From...

Earlier this year, the Regina Hall and Sterling K. Brown-led movie Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul. premiered at Sundance. The feature is a mockumentary that follows Hall and Brown’s characters, Trinitie and Lee-Curtis Childs, heads of a prominent megachurch. Lee-Curtis becomes embroiled in a scandal, and the two are forced to close their doors. After some time has passed, they prepare to re-open while trying to rebuild their reputation and congregation.

Hall and Brown have both demonstrated their prowess throughout their careers, so it comes as no surprise that they’re absolutely magnetic on screen together. From the get-go, Brown brings the charismatic Lee-Curtis to life. While viewers know he’s not really a good person, it’s hard not to be pulled in by him anyway; there’s no question he has the power to sway thousands of churchgoers. Meanwhile, Hall offers a wonderful contrast to Lee-Curtis. Though the two share similarities, any tension between the two is largely demonstrated through Trinitie’s more reserved nature. Hall plays well off Brown’s performance, cluing viewers into the fact that this isn’t a couple with a picture-perfect relationship.

The Childses path to redemption isn’t an easy one, though, thanks to a competing church run by co-pastors Shakura and Keon Sumpter (Nicole Beharie and Conphidance). The Sumpters are a welcome inclusion to the movie for a couple of reasons. First, they generally offer a great challenge to the Childses as they become the go-to for congregants seeking a new church. They’re fresh faces that usher in a newer era for the younger generations coming up. Secondly, their passive-aggressive response to the Childses is just fun to watch. Beharie and Conphidance bring great performances to the table and really draw contrast between them and the Childses.

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Honk for Jesus. is also a visual feast, especially when it comes to the costume design. The Childses are clearly a well-off couple, and their extravagance is made all the more prominent through the way they dress. Whatever the characters don’t reveal through words, they showcase through their wardrobe and their overall materialism. They live lavishly, both at home and at their gigantic church. It not only emphasizes that something is a little sus with these two, but that there’s a certain amount of theater that goes into how they run their church. It was also interesting to watch how they justified their lifestyle under the guise of a higher divine power, a testament to the success they’ve had in manipulating their congregants to continue feeding into it. Despite this, viewers also gain small snippets that show how, negative tactics aside, the Childses have had some positive effects on their congregation.

Overall, Honk for Jesus. is a sharp and entertaining satire. Writer/director Adamma Ebo and producer Adanne Ebo expand their short film into something that maintains both its serious commentary and wonderfully ridiculous moments. Their decision to shoot the film almost entirely as a documentary keeps the story engaging and gives it a more personal touch. It’s a solid feature directorial debut from Adamma and one worth checking out.

Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul. is out now in theaters and streaming on Peacock. Be sure to read our interviews with cast member Nicole Beharie, and Adamma and Adanne Ebo. Check out the trailer below:

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