Review: Religious satire takes viewers to church
Honk for Jesus. Save your soul.
“Jesus Christ was all about the shock factor,” Trinity Childs (Regina Hall) said, as well as Adamme Ebo’s latest comedy-drama, “Honk for Jesus. Save your soul.” This mockumentary-style film ambitiously attempts to shed light on the hypocrisies within the Christian community and entertain viewers through dark comedy.
“Honk for Jesus. Save your soul.” follows televangelist Pastor Lee-Curtis Childs (Sterling K. Brown) and his First lady Trinitie Childs as they work to bring the congregation back to their Southern Baptist mega-church after a scandal forced them to close. The film picks up as Lee-Curtis hires a documentary crew to capture the glorious return of him and his wife to the public. Unfortunately for the Childs, the documentary crew will capture every fracture and imperfection that occurs as they attempt to bury their scandal and open up their congregation on Easter.
“Honk for Jesus. Save your soul.” is a first-rate commentary on the immense diversion of wealth that occurs within Christianity, particularly in regards to how children can afford their excessive lifestyles. Ebo demonstrates this visually with the scale of the places of worship of all the different congregations in this southern community. The children’s church, for example, “Wander to Greater Paths”, is colossal, with multiple dance studios, exquisite basketball courts, and state-of-the-art audiovisual capabilities for their sermons. The church of their main competitor, “Heaven’s House”, is equally showy and colossal, as each time the children visit the organization, they discuss their latest expansion. In addition to their workplace, the kids themselves are luxuriously lavished in comically extravagant branded materials like Prada, Gucci and Armand.
The narrative structure of “Honk for Jesus. Save your soul.” is erudite because it uses editing to allow the plot to unfold naturally in front of the viewers. This is particularly important at the start of the film. “setback” or a “problem” without the characters explicitly exposing the details of the scandal that took place before the events of the film. Despite this, viewers are never confused or out of the loop. and are still hanging on and waiting to see what happens to the children.
Ebo does a wonderful job of getting audience members to care for the flawed characters of Lee-Curtis and Trinitie. Collectively, they misuse donated funds, attempt to cover the Lee-Curtis scandal and care little about the impact of their actions on others. It is quite clear that they are not good people – although they are supposedly the holiest. Even with their tragic flaws, their cartoonish personalities, darkness, and over-the-top nature have viewers laughing out loud.
This satirical effect wouldn’t have been possible without the talents of Sterling K. Brown and Regina Hall who really bring these satirical characters to life. Brown skillfully captures the intricacies of being a walking contradiction in the world of religion as well as the dangers and loathings that come with men in the tall statues of the world of organized religion. Hall successfully captures the inner turmoil and isolation that comes with supporting a partner to the bitter end for better or worse. Hall’s performance is exceptionally remarkable as it elicits both the biggest laughs and heartbreaking emotions from the viewers.
Where “Honk for Jesus. Save your soul.” fails in its delivery and its tone. The film starts off strong with a deliberate and clear take on the world of fictional commentary. Unfortunately, about halfway through, the comedy elements fade away and the film ends feeling and looking more like drama. This can be exceptionally shocking to viewers and makes the satirical elements at the end incredibly hard to make out, thus blurring Ebo’s clear criticism at one point.
“Honk for Jesus. Save your soul.” is an in-depth look into the world of religious contradictions and the fragility of a rock upon which rests the house of God in the United States. If not for the tonal shifts and inconsistencies that occur throughout the third act, this could have been a perfect movie.