Regina Hall and Sterling K Brown are fantastically funny in Honk For Jesus, Save Your Soul – a biting but one-note satire. 

Skillfully using the mockumentary format to create a biting satire of organised religion and christianity in the Southern U.S. states, Honk For Jesus, Save Your Soul is often genuinely funny. Written and directed by Adamma Ebo, it takes a shot at pretty much every existing stereotype of strongly religious people, but is smart enough to aim its barbed commentary at those in positions of power.

That would be Pastor Lee-Curtis Childs (Sterling K. Brown) and wife and first lady Trinitie (Regina Hall). We’re quickly brought up to speed on their lifestyle and values – the Childs are well-dressed, egotistical, and have a love of luxury. As the couple are hit with a huge scandal and forced to close their church, they hire a team of documentary filmmakers to document their attempt at saving their reputation and the events building to their ‘grand reopening’.

As the crew are introduced to the Childs, the script excels at presenting us with brilliant moments of hypocrisy. Their first focus is immediately on their (huge, walk in) wardrobe, and what Lee-Curtis should be wearing to win over his betrayed former-congregation members. There’s no doubt left as to what’s most important as he pledges loyalty to spreading the word of God while parading around in sequined shoes and designer feathered hats.

What really sells it is the performances of Brown and Hall, who are completely oblivious to any wrongdoing and deliver these lines straight-faced and with the utmost conviction. Much of the amusement is also found just in their faces, as they give very expressive awkward stares into the camera and uncomfortable smiles. Honk For Jesus would not be what it is without the leading duo’s masterful physical comedy. The most memorable moments stem from the chemistry between the two, and they seem to be having a great time.

Their vanity and ego is often what comes under fire during the course of the movie, with it mocking typical ‘church lady’ fashion (expect ostentatious hats), and the way they only mind their language around the cameras. Perhaps the most heavy-handed gag is when Lee-Curtis tells Trinity that he ‘needs to save souls’ as an ambulance whizzes past in the background. But the leading couple aren’t the only targets of the film’s satire, it has a dig at the underhanded and hypocritical nature of extremely religious people too, especially the way they pretend to be nice to people they secretly – or not secretly – hate.

It’s great that the film absolutely never punches down. As events progress and we get closer to the Childs’ church reopening, the nature of Lee-Curtis’s scandal also unfolds. It’ll come as no surprise what kind of scandal it is, but that’s never the target of Honk For Jesus’ jokes. In fact, it’s treated with a surprising amount of seriousness and fuels the few moments in which the main characters are genuinely detestable instead of the butt of a joke.

Regrettably, though, there’s only so many jokes you can make about organised religion and two vain people before you run out of ideas. And run of ideas it does. The greatest material is to be found in the first half, with the comedy sidelined later on in favour of progressing the story of the reopening, but there’s no excitement to be found in this narrative. It’s painfully obvious from the start how this will play out, and the fun is in enjoying the journey, specifically the biting satirical moments and the lead performances.

This makes the ending somewhat of a disappointment, as both the amusement and the story peter out into what I can only describe as a bit of a non-ending.

Ultimately, though, Honk For Jesus, Save Your Soul is a fun satirical comedy for the cynics out there, and is well worth watching simply for the great chemistry and comedic talents of Regina Hall and Sterling K. Brown.

Honk For Jesus, Save Your Soul is screening on 11th June at Sundance Film Festival London.

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