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Honk for Jesus, Save your Soul ★★★



Director: Adamma Ebo

Cast: Regina Hall, Sterling K. Brown, Nicole Beharie, Austin Crute

Release: TBC

The mockumentary is a versatile beast. A popular genre exploring a range of subgroups including rockstars, vampires and teen beauty queens – to name just a few. In Adamma Ebo’s directorial debut, Honk for Jesus, Save Your Soul, Black Southern Evangelicals are under the microscope in an ambitious satirical comedy that gamely fuses mockumentary with dramatic style for entertaining results.  

As the “First Lady” of Wander the Greater Paths church, Trinitie Childs (Regina Hall) has had a rough few months. A sexual misconduct scandal involving her husband, Pastor Lee-Curtis (Sterling K. Brown), has cost them most of their congregation. After laying low in a bid to weather the storm, the Childs emerge ready for a rebrand; cue the cameras and our front row seats to their plans for a glorious comeback. 

For those acquainted with Black Southern Baptist culture, Honk for Jesus is an explosion of deliciously astute observations. Skewering mega-church pastors, their larger than life personalities and even more controversially absurd riches, Ebo’s sharp script peppers its more weighty commentary with quick, funny gags that are brilliantly executed. 

Even with its impressive satire, the strength of Honk for Jesus lies in some truly inspired casting. Regina Hall has long been a comedic force as well as an iconic mainstay of Black film. Her easy versatility in blending the dramatic with the ridiculous is wonderfully utilised by Ebo and makes for a memorable performance in a career already full of them. It’s no easy feat to match Hall, yet Sterling K. Brown’s note-perfect deployment of delusional gravitas is endlessly watchable. Even amongst such strong leads, a special mention must go to Nicole Beharie in a scene-stealing turn as Shakura Sumpter; the first lady of a rival church who has benefitted from the Childs’ disillusioned flock and is keen to maintain dominance. 

However, as the runtime progresses, the same ambitious film-making that makes Honk for Jesus such fun also proves to be its weakness. Mockumentary is the dominant style, yet the film’s viewpoints oscillate between documentary footage, behind the scenes shadowing, and the Childs alone without the cameras. On one hand, this decision works well, as we’re able to juxtapose sleek (albeit still slightly ludicrous) documentary footage with the Childs’ actual constant bickering and strained temperament. But what it also does is set up a narrative balancing act that Ebo doesn’t always meet throughout. The insight into the duality of the Childs’ via these viewpoints doesn’t always feel fully explored, and we delve more into the ramifications of the scandal at times it feels difficult to clearly distinguish between perspectives. By its end, the story feels a little jumbled and kept afloat mainly by Hall and Brown’s commitment to their roles. 

Even with its shaky landing, Honk for Jesus, Save Your Soul is an engaging and exciting debut for Adamma Ebo. Its dynamic approach may be hit and miss, but it’s a swing worth taking, 

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