Grafting moral uplift onto a slapstick caper with only mixed results, David E. Talbert’s First Sunday nevertheless captures some of the giddy eccentricity of the Ealing comedies it haphazardly resembles. The sketchy story concerns two Baltimore fuckups, Durell (Ice Cube) and LeeJohn (Morgan), who impulsively attempt a nighttime robbery of a flush neighborhood church. They’re foiled when the place turns out to be occupied by various congregants, including a hinky deacon (Beach), a pastor’s pulchritudinous daughter (Malinda Williams) and a fey, snappy choir director (Katt Williams) who wouldn’t be out of place on Project Runway.
Fate and faith intervene, naturally, and while Talbert is too invested in the story’s pathos to find an enduring comic groove (benignly bitchy motormouth Katt Williams is the most consistently funny element here, and even he occasionally stumbles), it’s refreshing to see churchgoers portrayed with earthiness and a sense of whimsy rather than as fundamentalist nutjobs or untarnished saints—up until the final act, that is. Less successful is Los Angeles as a stand-in for Baltimore: After four seasons of The Wire, even casual viewers can tell Charm City from La-La Land.
Cast and crew