Movie Review: First Sunday
By Matthew Huntley
March 24, 2008
First Sunday is a forgetful, screwballish comedy with a good-sized heart. It's dumb, predictable and juvenile, but the characters are cheerfully goofy and likable, and because they possess an underlying sweetness, I was willing to give them the benefit of the doubt. This is not a movie I'll remember beyond next weekend when something else - anything else - comes along, but it's not because First Sunday is particularly bad; it's just one you don't really need to see.
Ice Cube and Tracy Morgan play Durell and LeeJohn, a couple of immature ex-cons who can never keep a job because of their criminal records. LeeJohn, the more impulsive of the two, gets the brilliant idea of selling pimped-out wheelchairs around Baltimore, but his paranoia results in a high-speed chase with two cops (Clifton Powell and Nicholas Turturro). An irate judge (Keith David) sentences Durell and LeeJohn to 5,000 hours of community service.
Durell has even bigger problems. His ex-girlfriend (Regina Hall) is in desperate need of $17,000 to keep her beauty salon running, or else she'll have to move to Atlanta and take Durell's son with her. Durell won't let his son grow up without a father, so he accepts LeeJohn's proposal of robbing the local church, and of course, mild cases of hilarity ensue. What should have been a simple breaking and entering job turns into an out-of-control hostage situation with some of the church members.
We meet a healthy supply of characters who function as either comic relief, sex appeal or moral fiber, or sometimes a little of each. There's an effeminate choir director (comedian Katt Williams); a big-hearted pastor (Chi McBride); the pastor's voluptuous daughter (Malinda Williams); a scheming deacon (Michael Beach); a kind widow (Loretta Devine); and a wise old lady (Olivia Cole).
The actors are all pleasant enough and help make the movie more watchable. Most of the credit goes to Devine and Cole as the female sages of the group. Devine shares a scene with Morgan that's unexpectedly moving and heartrending (and surprisingly well-acted by Morgan), and Cole has a hard-hitting speech at the end about responsibility. It's all straightforward and hardly original, but it's effectively performed.
It doesn't take a genius to figure out how the movie will all play out, or that it will end on an upbeat note where everyone is happy and the two protagonists learn a valuable lesson. But as predictable and silly as it is, it still managed to put a smile on my face.
From a distance, First Sunday appears as a small urban comedy simply thrown together by director David E. Talbert. But that's not the entire case. Its performances are honest; its message useful; and the ending a feel-good. Are there better movies out there with the same, if not better, assets? Absolutely. But this one gives a strong enough effort that pays off with harmless fun and a few chuckles.
Should you see this movie in the theater? Probably not. Is it worth your time on DVD or TV? Yeah, I'd say so, especially if you're in a silly, no-thinking kind of mood.