Directed by: Adamma Ebo
Premise: The husband and wife (Sterling K. Brown and Regina Hall) who pastor a mega-church try to rebuild their congregation in the aftermath of a sex scandal. They hire a documentary crew to film their preparations for Easter.
What Works: Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul. stars Regina Hall and Sterling K. Brown as a couple trying to save their marriage and their livelihood. Brown’s character is the pastor but his wife is integral to the organization and there is a lot happening underneath their performances. Hall and Brown’s characters are terrible people. They are narcissists who use religion as a shield for their greed and self-absorption and Hall and Brown throw themselves into the despicability. However, there are moments in which the beatific veneer slips and we can see the panic and avarice underneath. The film suggests the husband is a repressed homosexual and the wife struggles with humiliation and the viability of her marriage. Brown and Hall reveal those inner conflicts in the subtle details of their performances.
What Doesn’t: There are some excellent moments in Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul. but the film is all over the place and never comes together as a coherent whole. Part of the problem is the format. The film alternates between an omniscient feature film style and the video content shot by the documentary crew. The filmmakers signal the transition between formats by using different aspect ratios but the image looks very much the same; the picture would have benefitted from a more discernable break in the visual style or by committing to one format or the other. The creative choices undermine the potential for a great mockumentary. The haphazard filmmaking form reveals a more fundamental problem of Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul. The filmmakers don’t appear to have a coherent idea about what kind of movie they were trying to make. The mockumentary scenes play for laughs and have an acerbic tone but the feature film segments vary greatly. At times the drama is satirical, which inherently keeps the characters at a distance, but other scenes are dramatic and reach for empathy. The end of the picture has some bizarre storytelling decisions, namely putting Regina Hall’s character in mime makeup. The radical shifts in tone prevent the story from building up to its climax and Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul. ultimately reveals little about the mega-church scene or these people.
Bottom Line: Regina Hall and Sterling K. Brown give a valiant effort but Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul. is too haphazard and unfocused. It is neither funny enough nor dramatic enough and the movie is frustrating viewing because it squanders an interesting premise and a great cast.
Episode: #916 (September 4, 2022)