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It can be said that there is almost always a second life for comedians, once the laughs run dry, by taking on dramatic roles. In Mr. Church, Eddie Murphy proves that while he still may be a legend due to his standup and classic comedies, there could really be new life for his career in more dramatic roles.
Characters & Story
Charlie (Britt Robertson)
Growing up without a father was fine for Charlie. It meant she had her mother Marie (Natascha McElhone) all to herself. But then enters Mr. Church (Eddie Murphy). A man who is like an indentured servant, a gift from one of the men Marie used to date and now she is given this cook for 6 months as penitence. As you can imagine, Charlie doesn’t like the idea of someone new in her life who comes uninvited and could threaten the attention her mom gives her. But, thankfully, despite how rude she was as a child, she never ran off Mr. Church. He stayed, endured, became one of the family, and loved them as if he was their own. Something which saved Charlie in the long run.
It’s an awful feeling to love someone so much that you absolutely hate them for leaving you. Even before they’ve gone
— Mr. Church
A book is meant to be read from beginning to end but is best understood from end to beginning.
— Mr. Church
People act strange around death. There are those who talk about everything but the person who died. There are those who only talk about the person who died. There are those who try to cheer you up and those who can’t help but make you cry. And then there are those who say nothing at all because they don’t have to.
— Mr. Church
A Wood Burning Oven
With the sheer amount of movies I’ve seen and other media I have experienced, it has made it where I often judge a production on if it can snag me quick. This film though isn’t like that. As Jill Scott said when it comes to making her music, which I’m paraphrasing heavily, there are microwaves and then wood burning ovens and not everything can be quickly reheated and served. No. Sometimes you got to wait, let the juices and meat boil, roast, or what have you, into a delicious meal. That is the case with Mr. Church for, let me tell you, there are times I wanted to drop this movie.
However, as time went on, some characters were dropped or screen time reduced, and it was just Murphy and Robertson, the film began to flourish. For while one could easily write off Mr. Church as a magical negro, which he fits the bill of, it is with focusing on him, his life, and his issues, that you get a real sense of emotion from the movie.
The same goes for the character of Charlie. As a child, young Charlie (Natalie Coughlin) was insufferable! Yet we get to watch her grow, come to see Mr. Church almost as a father figure, and her desperate need for him to be more than the man who cooks for her family is touching. Granted, in a weird way for it makes you wonder if children on plantations felt that way, but still touching nonetheless.
6 Years a Stranger
With that said, I can’t be the only one who finds it strange that for around 6 years Mr. Church was in Charlie and Marie’s life and Charlie didn’t know anything about him. They didn’t know his favorite color or even what he did with his life after he left their house. They just knew he came in before they woke up and usually left when they were going to bed. To me, that seems so strange even if Mr. Church was private. For reasons hinted about.
There Are Multiple Points You Think “If Only It Would End Here.”
For two-thirds of the movie, I felt like I was suffering. Almost to the point where there was some sort of milestone moment, I was praying, with fingers crossed, we had come to the end of the movie. But, alas, it continued. And while things do pick up and get better toward the end, once all of the foundation for everything has been laid, getting to that point where things got good was long and arduous.
Overall: On The Fence (Home Viewing)
The main issue with Mr. Church is that it takes far too long to get good. It takes far too long to take advantage of Murphy’s talent and charisma, and while Robertson isn’t a bad actress, arguably she isn’t at the point yet where she can carry a film. Add on that the rest of the supporting cast, while decent, aren’t overwhelming or making any attempts to steal the movie, and you are left with a ho-hum affair which has its moments, but isn’t something worth ranting and raving about.