How Honk For Jesus Save Your Soul is an Actually Funny Christian Movie


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Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul. is a hilarious yet impactful mockumentary that follows a thoughtless pastor and his conflicted yet obedient wife reeling from the man’s embarrassing sex scandal. Of course, that’s a common theme these days, especially in megachurches, so those religious themes seem like a very easy target for lazy satire. Instead, the unusual combination of spectacular comedy and thought-provoking drama with social commentary is anything but lazy in Honk For Jesus.

Written, directed, and produced by Adamma Ebo in conjunction with her twin Adanne, the feature-length film serves as an adaptation of their 2018 short film that shares the same name. Stronger than its acclaimed predecessor, Honk For Jesus manages to discuss dark and triggering content without making light of or minimizing the consequences of unchecked hypocrisy and enabling abusers.


Inside the Comedic World of Honk For Jesus

Sterling K. Brown and Black Jesus in Honk For Jesus Save Your Soul
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From the point of view of an unnamed director offscreen, Honk For Jesus documents each partner’s understanding of the scandal, how they attempt to cope with the reality of the pastor’s decisions ahead of their megachurch’s grand reopening, and their reaction to a rival pastoral couple starting a megachurch of their own. The clear condemnation of the pastor is not spelled out nor is it only baked into the comedy; rather, it is surveyed through a variety of perspectives. The willful ignorance of pastor Lee-Curtis Childs (an incredible Sterling K. Brown) and his wife Trinitee (an equally stunning Regina Hall) is decorated with smiles, awkward laughter, and silly moments that function for multiple reasons.

Related: Exclusive: The Ebo Sisters and Nicole Beharie Talk Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul.

Take, for instance, the scene depicting Wednesday service. The near-vacant crowd is an amusing moment of its own. However, the sheer nonsense that is the baptism scene truly would make anyone fall out of their seats laughing. The scene perfectly depicts the pastor’s egotistical disposition, from the way he flaunts his body to the repetitive dunking during the actual baptism, which they are trying to get right for the camera.

The cherry on top is one line from a young girl in attendance. “I love the theater,” she says enthusiastically. The Wednesday service and the pastor’s supposed redemption arc are perfectly captured in that one word, “theater.” The drive to convince their audience that everything is okay is what exactly dooms the couple in the film’s final scenes. Every ‘generous’ or ‘heartfelt’ action of Lee-Curtis and Trinitee are nothing unless they are adorned with spectacle. While the scenes themselves are laugh-inducing, they also highlight the hollowness of the couple’s charitable acts. When the camera crews aren’t around and Honk For Jesus shifts to real life, the sadness and emptiness of these people is palpable.

The History of the Mockumentary

Nicole Beharie and Conphidance in Honk For Jesus Save Your Soul
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Rising in popularity during the 1980s, mockumentaries have captivated international audiences. Protagonists consistently breaking the fourth wall combined with the comedic timing of the characters are some of the many reasons why mockumentaries have made a lasting impact on the silver screen before their successful transition to the small screen. Mockumentary TV shows like The Office, Parks and Recreation, and the recent Abbott Elementary have enjoyed mass acclaim and astounding success following the mockumentary format. As a result, the shows in question have garnered loyal fan bases and have been cemented as landmark television series.

Related: These Are 5 of the Best Mockumentaries

Apart from delivering iconic and hilarious scenes, the programs overall address pervasive issues plaguing many people close to home and abroad. Parks and Recreation is a comedic commentary on the rampant and unchecked inadequacies present in bureaucracies. Similarly, Abbott Elementary comments on the pervasive inequalities in the American education system and their impacts on inner-city students, faculty, and families. Honk For Jesus uses the format for a similar purpose — a critique of hypocrisy and commentary on religion’s entanglement with capitalism.

Trinitee-Tales: The Significance of Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul.

Regina Hall in the comedy movie Honk For Jesus Save Your Soul
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Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul. is not only hilarious but a poignant commentary on the hypocrisy of religious institutions concerning sexual abuse and sexuality itself. The protagonist is a seemingly charismatic megachurch pastor but is actually a predator, uncontrollable even to himself, who ultimately benefits from his association with the church. Conversely, his victims are subjected to egregious victim blaming and homophobic rebuttals while pastor Childs only has his less-than-stellar comeback to speak for his actions.

It is in the film’s final moments where the funniest yet most daunting scenes occur. The iconic stare-down between Trinitee and the Black Jesus doll is, on the surface, nonsensical. She’s completely exhausted and enraged after coddling her husband throughout the movie. While she does express those emotions in the film’s climax, Trinitee reserves her frustration for the doll and the doll alone, staring it down like she’s been waiting to pounce on it throughout the film.

The scene offers a myriad of interpretations. Trinitee’s struggle with religion and the shroud of domesticity that has been forced upon her is a recurring issue throughout the film. Religion as a whole has faced criticism for various misogynistic practices, and in Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul. Trinitee’s concerns are consistently ignored, and she is often gaslit into believing that the re-opening of the megachurch will be successful and thus will make her happy. It is this scene where she finally comes to terms with the pastor’s object of affection. The film is just as much of an exploration of Trinitee’s despair as it is a satirical overlook at Lee-Curtis’ life following the allegations coming out.

Church, Temptation, and the Black Jesus

Regina Hall and a Black Jesus in Honk For Jesus Save Your Soul
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Additionally, the Black Jesus doll as the object of the pastor’s affection is amusing on the surface, but highlights a secret hidden in plain sight. Lee-Curtis’ sexuality itself is not the real secret, but more so his true intentions. From an outsider looking in, the choice looks like a display of celebration, commemorating the unique bond between Black American identity and Christianity.

Nonetheless, we know that the doll also represents Lee-Curtis’ perfect partner. The doll shares a resemblance to his victims, one in particular. Upon this realization, Trinitee directs her anger toward the figurine in front of her. It represents the church and temptation, two attributes that Lee-Curtis would rather devote all of his energy towards at the expense of his marriage.

Honk For Jesus. Save Your Soul. is a comedy that doesn’t do the heavy lifting for the audience. The messages are omnipresent yet aren’t forcefully fed to the viewers. The ridiculousness of the film’s writing not only provides audiences with exemplary comedy but captures the ludicrous nature of the pastor’s actions and how the community surrounding the couple pacifies him, a story all too common in religious communities across the world.

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