Honk for Jesus is a mockumentary – meaning that it’s created in the style of a documentary but based on a fictionalized subject, a parody presented with an ironic twist – like Sasha Baron Cohen’s Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan, the highest-grossing mockumentary film.
In this satire of Southern megachurch culture and its prosperity gospel, Regina Hall is the pragmatically loyal wife of an egomaniacal, philandering pastor, played by Sterling K. Brown.
Atlanta’s Wander for Greater Paths Baptist megachurch lost all but faithful five of its 25,000 followers after Pastor Lee-Curtis Childs (Brown) was exposed in a sexual misconduct scandal. So now he and his chagrined First Lady wife Trinitie (Hall) have embarked on a miscalculated comeback strategy, relying more on publicity than prayer.
To that end, the Pastor has asked a filmmaker (Andres Laing) to “chronicle the ultimate comeback” on Easter Sunday. Not so coincidentally, a rival Baptist church, known as Heaven’s House, run by married ministers Shakura and Keon Sumpter (Nicole Beharie, Conphidance), which many of the megachurch’s congregants have joined, is planning to launch its own larger headquarters, also scheduled for Easter.
When the Pastor tells Trinitie that their triumphant comeback is going to be like Sylvester Stallone’s film “Rocky,” Trinitie reminds him, “But Rocky lost.”
Analyzing her strained smile, Trinitie’s tolerant behavior can be traced back to her strict Christian upbringing in which she was taught that a wife stands by her husband – no matter what!
On the other hand, Pastor Lee-Curtis is simply a hypocrite, a superficial ‘groomer’ who preaches against the sins of “homosexuality” while cultivating his prey. To call his televangelist character underdeveloped is an understatement.
Expanding on their 2018 short of the same name, executive producer Jordan Peele works with twin filmmakers writer/director/producers Adamma Ebo and producer Adanne Ebo. Although scripted as a cringe comedy, it’s annoyingly repetitive and directed at far too slow a pace.
The most inventive aspect is the Ebo sisters’ use of faux TV news clips, particularly callers to a Black talk-radio show, who not only express their views on the megachurch scandal but also question why Trinitie stays with her humiliated husband.
On the Granger Gauge of 1 to 10, Honk for Jesus is a jumbled 5, playing in theaters and streaming on Peacock.