“Pastor Childs, are the allegations true?” Brown’s Pastor Lee-Curtis Childs is asked almost at the beginning, while the details of the scandal remain purposefully vague for much of the film.
The details are actually relatively insignificant, as the relentlessly cheerful pastor and his wife Trinitie (Hall) work to rebuild their Atlanta megachurch, which once housed thousands of parishioners, and plan for a triumphant reopening on Easter Sunday.
In what appears to be an act of hubris, the Childs have also invited a documentary crew to join them, fly-on-the-wall style, as they go through the process, though there are plenty of awkward moments that they often find themselves speaking directly to the invisible filmmakers, asking them to omit certain material.
Finally, amid references to “the settlement” being paid to the wrong people, they resort to roadside preaching, an indication of how far the powerful have fallen. They also see their congregants flocking to another church run by a younger couple (Nicole Beharie, Conphidance), who aren’t great at hiding their interest in taking advantage of their competitors’ misfortunes—which is the first one. ‘the dump of a circumstance’. .”
After making its debut at the Sundance Film Festival, “Honk for Jesus” contains clear commentary about the transactional nature of certain religious outfits incorporated into the concept, showing Pastor Childs’ flashy outfits and expensive shoes as evidence of those who take advantage of their flocks. But that broader aspect of the film feels underdeveloped, focusing specifically on the plight of the central couple, and in particular the extent to which Trinitie will go, to quote the song, to assist her husband.
In that sense, the film provides a solid showcase for Brown and Hall, while portraying Ebo as a talent to watch, if not, in this setting, someone who performs to the fullest.
“I’m not a perfect man,” Pastor Childs admits at one point.
While “Honk for Jesus” isn’t a perfect movie, commend it that it’s at least an interesting movie.
“Honk for Jesus. Save Your Soul” premieres September 2 in US theaters and on Peacock. It has an R.