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   Movie Reviews: First Sunday
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Studio:
     Screen Gems
Plot:
     Two petty criminals hatch a scheme to rob their neighborhood church.
Cast:
     Ice Cube, Tracy Morgan, Katt Williams, Loretta Devine, Malinda Williams, Michael Beach, Chi McBride, Regina Hall
Rating:
     PG-13
Bottom Line:
     **

Coverage:
by
Samantha Ofole-Prince

Rapper, actor and director Ice Cube has built a solid fan base delivering satirical comedies of urban life in the ‘hood’ and in his latest offering he’s got a new sidekick and a new scheme.

Set in inner-city Baltimore, LeeJohn Jackson (Tracy Morgan) and Durell Washington (Ice Cube) are childhood buddies and petty criminals desperate to make a quick buck. When an opportunity to sell gold-rimmed wheelchairs ends in disaster, the pair end up even further in debt. Desperate to get cash and faced with a limited time period to do so they decide to rob a local church, but once they break in they discover the money is missing and the pair end up getting a lot more than they bargained for.

Co-produced by Ice Cube’s company Cube Vision, “First Sunday” is written and directed by David Edward Talbert who makes his feature film directional debut stepping away from the familiar foray of the stage plays he’s best known for.

“First Sunday is like Mardi Gras,” says Talbert in describing where the title stems from. “It’s when the big mass choir sings and when the most people come out because it’s communion Sunday.”

An uplifting comedy with a squeaky plot, “First Sunday” is about good intentions, bad decisions and second chances with redemption being its underlying theme. It follows the comedic formula in a kind of easygoing and predictable way, but generates so much goodwill and laughs that you don't really care. With a colorful cast that includes a scene stealing Katt Williams as the pint size metro sexual and flamboyant choir director Rickey, it hits the funny bone more often than not. Most of the actors are experienced pros and all seem like real people, probably because they're playing characters they are familiar and comfortable with. Among them are Loretta Devine who plays the sweet church secretary Sister Doris, Michael Beach as the smooth talking Deacon, Chi McBride as Pastor Mitchell and Malinda Williams as Tianna his fiery and ostentatious daughter.

“I like creating characters that are flawed and taking them on a journey and I think it’s important to show images that counter to what people think. Black men are vilified in the community as being dead beat dads. We don’t graduate from school, are on drugs and all these kinds of stuff and I wanted to show that even flawed as we may be that there are still some attributes even in the most adverse of situations,” claims Talbert.

With some clunky moments where we see the plot wheels grinding, “First Sunday” isn’t brilliant nor innovative, but it has its heart and grin in the right places. With talk of a “Second Sunday” sequel this could be the start of another trilogy based on the misadventures of LeeJohn and Durell.

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