Thank you, Jesus. In a disgraced megachurch, 'Save Your Soul' finds dark satire.

 Thank you, Jesus. In a disgraced megachurch, 'Save Your Soul' finds dark satire.

Thank you, Jesus. In a disgraced megachurch, 'Save Your Soul' finds dark satire.

Regina Hall and Sterling K. Brown in "Honk for Jesus, Save Your Soul."

In what appears to be an act of arrogance, the Childs have also invited a documentary crew to tag along as they go about the process, fly-on-the-wall style, though there are enough awkward moments that they frequently find themselves speaking directly to the unseen filmmakers, asking them to leave out certain material.

That device is typical of student films, and writer-director Adamma Ebo – who produced the film alongside her twin sister Adanne, the stars, Daniel Kaluuya, and Jordan Peele – could have done without it in this format, though it does serve the purpose of forcing Brown and Hall to keep their smiles plastered across their faces, while tension simmers beneath the manicured surface as they see their empire slipping away.

They eventually resort to roadside preaching amid references to "the settlement" paid out to those wronged, demonstrating how far the mighty have fallen. They also see their congregations flock to another church run by a younger couple (Nicole Beharie, Conphidance), who aren't particularly good at concealing their desire to profit from their competitors' misfortune – what the former refers to as a "landfill of a circumstance."

"Honk for Jesus," which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, clearly has commentary about the transactional nature of certain religious outfits baked into the concept, displaying Pastor Childs' flashy outfits and expensive shoes as evidence of those who profit from their flocks. However, that broader aspect of the film feels underdeveloped, with the focus solely on the central couple's plight, and especially the lengths Trinitie will go, to quote the song, to stand by her man.

Adapted from a film short into a feature film, "Thank you, Jesus. Keep Your Soul Safe "displays the strain of the magnification process — as far as premises go, the collection plate feels a little light. However, the central performances of Sterling K. Brown and Regina Hall as the disgraced pastor and his wife desperately plotting a comeback make this dark satire watchable.


"Are the allegations true, Pastor Childs?" Brown's Pastor Lee-Curtis Childs is questioned early on, while the specifics of the scandal are kept deliberately vague for much of the film.

The details are insignificant as the pastor and his wife Trinitie (Hall) work to rebuild their Atlanta megachurch, which once had thousands of parishioners, with a triumphant reopening planned for Easter Sunday.

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