“Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul” Review

A surprisingly dark satire asks not what we should believe, but whom we should follow.

Sterling+K.+Brown+stars+in+the+recently+released+satirical+comedy+Honk+for+Jesus.+Save+Your+Soul.

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

Sterling K. Brown stars in the recently released satirical comedy “Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul.”

Brendan Peters, Staff Writer

Very rarely do films touch on something that is real; instead, they often grasp at a caricature and hope an audience will latch on. The new film “Honk for Jesus is, at first glance, a show that only scratches the surface of the complex relationship between scandal and religion but hidden beneath is a timely message about a reality that can often be uncomfortable. Helmed by first-time director Adamma Ebo, “Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul” places the viewer in the battleground of organized religion. Pastor Lee-Curtis Childs (Sterling K. Brown) and his wife Trinitie (Regina Hall) begin preparations for the grand reopening of their Atlanta megachurch after a series of scandals caused a mass exodus of parishioners. 

The casual viewer easily associates the Christian church with scandal, especially when Lee-Curtis himself is the culprit accused of sexual misconduct by multiple victims. The scandal comes out in the open in this mockumentary, told from the perspective of the couple at the center of it all.

NO ONE WITHOUT SIN

It is difficult to deny the chemistry that Hall and Brown have on screen. Trinitie’s fragile and suppressed composure is riveting when juxtaposed with Lee-Curtis’ flamboyant narcissism. They play off each other well, especially during the documentary scenes where Trinitie is forced to keep it together as Lee-Curtis seeks to return to the spotlight that he so desperately craves. Both characters, however different in their personalities, struggle with similar sins that must come to the surface.

As much as the pastor is obviously in the wrong, his wife’s complicitness condemns her as well since she seeks the power of the pulpit just as much as her husband.

The apparent obliviousness with which the two peruse their way through their cabinets of designer clothing shows just how out of touch they truly are. Hall, in an interview with Rolling Stone, spoke on the effect of that imagery. “There’s just something about a pastor in Prada,” Trinitie says. “It just gives you chills.”

POWER AND THE CHURCH

Honk for Jesusrelies heavily on its performances but often falters when it comes to finding a consistent angle and central message. The regular switching between documentary footage and real life makes it difficult to establish a focus for the film, and leads to clunkiness. The line between reality and falsehood is often constrained to whether or not the crew is present, which limits the potential for the characters themselves to convey a stronger message.

Additionally, the plot can feel like a caricature, intended to represent a scenario that will surely strike a chord with those who have no deeper knowledge of the Christian church. Perhaps they may view this flamboyant narcissism as the norm. Yet the central message has nothing to do with the actions and practices of the church, or even the Childs’ megachurch. Instead, it has everything to do with the kind of leadership that can exist — or not exist — in those environments. The Childs are put in roles of great power. “Honk for Jesus” asks: What do you do with it?

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