First Sunday

Posted: January 12, 2008 in Film Reviews

First SundayFirst Sunday violated the eleventh commandment: thou shalt not waste my time.

Of course it was funny – some of the time. However, for the most part, the film is a sappy, regurgitation of the boys from the hood gone bad but saved by the good hearts of the community story.

Durell (Ice Cube) and LeeJohn (Tracy Morgan) are lifelong friends and petty criminals. When Durell finds out his son’s mother is moving to Atlanta unless she can get $17,000, he becomes desperate. However, agreeing to one of LeeJohn’s harebrained schemes only puts them $12,000 deeper in debt and in a direr situation. Out of options, the pair decides to rob the neighbourhood church, only to discover someone has beat them to the punch. Determined not to leave without the money, they hold the church folk hostage but leave with something more valuable than money.

The first act focuses strictly on the duo and setting up the story, which is laborious to get through. The pimped-out wheelchair antics are more trite than funny. It is not until the addition of the church-going characters that the movie becomes watchable and entertaining.

Ice Cube is the non-comedic, straight character, which he does well but still lacks substance. Conversely, Morgan’s character has failed to reach maturity and his performance is typical and, therefore, tiresome. Katt Williams is the film’s shining light as the flamboyant choir director who always has something to say. Michael Beach was a good choice for the dubious Deacon Randy, while Chi McBride seems underused as Pastor Mitchell. Nevertheless, filmmakers fittingly casted legend Olivia Cole as Momma T, the group’s wise and noble spirit. An oddity, on the other hand, is the appearance of comedian Rickey Smiley as Bernice Jenkins, who disappears in the next scene when everyone discovers they are hostages.

The story’s emotional arcs are somewhat too serious for the film; although delivered by Loretta Devine, they tend to be touching nonetheless. In addition, the filmmakers wisely avoid a preachy tone, concentrating more on general goodness and community outreach.

Overall, this is at the most a wait for DVD movie… unless you really like Morgan’s style of comedy or cannot wait to see Williams’ portrayal.

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