HONK FOR JESUS. SAVE THE SOUL (2022) l Focus Features | Sept 2, 2022 | 102 Mins.
A satirical comedy starring Regina Hall as Trinitie Childs - the proud first lady of a Southern Baptist megachurch, who together with her husband Pastor Lee-Curtis Childs (Sterling K. Brown), once served a congregation in the tens of thousands. But after a scandal forces their church to temporarily close, Trinitie and Lee-Curtis must reopen their church and rebuild their congregation to make the biggest comeback that commodified religion has ever seen.
REVIEW BY: Darren Zakus
Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul. features the incredibly talented Regina Hall and Sterling K. Brown, that despite a script that leaves you wanting more, will generate some truly fun moments in this ridiculous mockumentary.
It has not been long since we have had a film about corrupt church leaders, as it was only last year that we saw the release of The Eyes of Tammy Faye, which saw Jessica Chastain finally win her Oscar. Had Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul. had not been released so quickly afterwards, this film would have played much better as the comparison between the two films would not be present in your mind. However, unlike The Eyes of Tammy Faye which chronicled the rise and decline of Tammy Faye and her husband, Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul. is a mockumentary styled tale of two disgraced church leaders as they attempt to re-open their church despite the scandal that their world has been rocked with.
Being a mockumentary, the film spends a lot of time interviewing our main character and capturing their crazy inner thoughts about the reopening of their church. It leads to some truly hilarious moments, but the film jumps between the main character giving an interview to an actual scene without changing the camera angles or set from the interview location. This creates some minor confusion for the audience as to whether the characters are addressing the audience or each other, which causes some of the jokes to fall flat as it’s hard to tell whether it's a joke directed at another character or an inner thought.
The story itself is interesting, providing a comical take on this grand approach to religion, where not so much the religious beliefs are being valued but the individual egos who are involved. It’s a biting commentary that speaks to the opulence and disingenuity of some of these leaders who hide behind their religious beliefs. At the same time, the film provides an interesting analysis of a woman standing behind her husband despite. Though, the film takes too long to reveal the scandal that has rocked the world of our two main characters, and does not provide enough context to it to help create a bond with these characters.
Luckily, the film features two stellar lead performances that are reason enough alone to check this film out. Sterling K. Brown is a tremendous actor, and he is great as Lee-Curtis Childs. Every moment he is on screen, he captures the larger than life nature of his character, blending both his love of God and his egotistical personality that drives his mission to become the biggest pastor he can be. His straight portrayal of the comedic moments is great, creating some wild moments as his character seems to miss the absurdity of his actions. Nicole Beharie and Conphidance are good as the pastors of the rival church, even though they only have a small number of scenes.
But, it is Regina Hall who is the dazzling star of this film! Hall is a comedic genius to begin with, but she is granted the role of a lifetime with Trinitie Childs. Trinitie is the perfect vessel for Hall’s infectious energy, providing her with so many outstanding comedic moments ranging from her hilarious interviews, her visit to the mall to buy hats, or an encounter with a former congregation member. Never for a second does Hall not absolutely steal the show, so much that when she is not on camera that you cannot wait for her character to return. But beyond that, Hall creates an inner turmoil within Trinitie that the audience can easily empathize with as she struggles with her husband’s indiscretions and her mind telling her to leave him, while her faith and place in society tells her to stand by him despite what he has done. It allows Hall to showcase a more dramatic side to her acting abilities that she normally does not get to show, highlighting how talented of an actress she is. It’s such a wonderful turn by her, that she could be seeing some awards buzz for awards shows with the distinction between drama and comedy, because she easily gives the best female comedic performance of the year to date.
While the story struggles at times and does not deliver all the laugh out loud moments that the screenplay strives to create, there is no denying the absolutely phenomenal performance of Regina Hall that alone makes checking out Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul. worth your while.
RATING: 3 out of 5