On the basis of First Sunday, it would seem writer-director David E. Talbert has been keeping close tabs on the creative recipe for success concocted by Tyler Perry. Unfortunately, he’s a very poor mimic, as his feature debut about two thieves attempting to steal from a church is a severely lazy, generally awful replication of Perry’s typical blend of heartwarming melodrama and broad, stereotype-mining humor. The two crooks in question are Durrell (Ice Cube, dull as ever) and LeeJohn (Tracy Morgan), the latter a buffoonish nitwit and the former an intelligent man—he had the highest SAT score in his high school graduating class!—with a knack for fixing air conditioners and robbing people blind. Durrell’s supposed intellect makes his criminality nonsensical, but Talbert’s story isn’t much for logic either, as evidenced by Durrell’s supremely moronic decision, upon learning that his son will be relocating to Atlanta if his baby’s mama (Regina Hall) doesn’t quickly come up with $17,000, to go along with LeeJohn’s plan to pilfer cash from the local First Sunday church. Things naturally go awry in ways meant to be funny, but Talbert is so content to rely on the riffing of Morgan and Kat Williams (as a dandified choir leader) for laughs—not to mention happy to ogle the laughably exposed cleavage of pastor’s daughter Tianna (Malinda Williams)—that he never bothers establishing an amusing scenario. Floundering as a comedy, the film eventually directs its attention to more serious issues, addressing the transformative power of faith and self-respect as well as the role of the community in providing a better way for wayward inner city males. That it does so via dramatic scenes involving the frequently funny but dramatically ill-equipped Tracy Morgan having a heart-to-heart with a foster kid and, later, shedding a tear, however, says much about the wrong-headedness that characterizes virtually every decision made by First Sunday.
- Screen Gems
- 98 min
- David E. Talbert
- David E. Talbert
- Ice Cube, Tracy Morgan, Katt Williams, Loretta Devine, Michael Beach, Keith David, Regina Hall, Malinda Williams, Chi McBride
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