First Sunday (DVD)

Durell (Cube) and LeeJohn (Morgan) are best friends and struggling for money, often turning to petty crime to make ends meet. Durell finds he has to somehow raise $17,000 so his estranged partner doesn’t take his son away to Atlanta. The two bungling crooks decide that their best plan of attack will be to rob the local church in their Baltimore community. Durell originally refuses but can’t quite stay away with the lure of keeping his son around hanging round his neck. The two go through with their plan but they can’t quite manage it successfully and end up in something of a quagmire. All the while, the church itself is undergoing a crisis of commercialism as the heads of the congregation try to move the church out of the ghetto and into the suburbs.

Not only is this film cluelessly written and plotted, but it manages to cover all negative stereotypes of all other races and include a nice chunk of homophobia into the bargain. The key characters in the story, Ice Cube and Morgan, have absolutely no chemistry whatsoever, to the point that they appear to be in two entirely different movies. Morgan mugs it up at every opportunity, throwing in pouts and frowns after nearly every line. He slurs and emphasises and elongates lines. He is so fucking annoying you want to physically hurt him during parts of the film. Ice Cube, well he’s in a really intense drama about the modern black male experience, dealing with father-son issues and problems for past criminal offenders. His scenes in the church when they hold a host of key figures from the church are actually very tense and frightening because he’s playing his character like a badass stick-up killer. Altogether, it’s muddled and embarrassing.

Are they done though? Hell, no. For its finale, we are treated to some shockingly simplistic and perfunctory teachings on Christianity which will offend atheists like me and devout Christians alike. Then, the real kicker. You have to try and understand what the hell the purpose of the film was. Are these central characters heroes? They rob a church, don’t do it well and then expect everyone to be entirely okay with it. Oh, there’s also a nice little court scene which is anti-Semitic and heart-stoppingly stupid. Not recommended then. here

EXTRAS * Horrible large amount of extras including commentaries, deleted scenes and all other manner of bits that further depress you over the amount of effort it really takes to create something this awful.

Stuart O'Connor is the Managing Editor of Screenjabber, the movie review website he co-founded with Neil Davey far too many years ago. He likes all genres, as long as the film is good (although he does enjoy the occasional bad "guilty pleasure"), and drinks way too much coffee.

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