A SNL skit stretched out by about eighty-five minutes, First Sunday is a comedy of the most desperate type. It goes for slapstick. When that doesn’t work it tries one-liners. When that doesn’t work it goes for sentimentality. Stuck in the middle are Ice Cube and Tracy Morgan, two occasionally gifted comedians who continue to choose awful cinematic projects.
Durell (Cube) and LeeJohn (Morgan) are best friends and floundering petty criminals. On top of that, Durell has major family problems. His ex-wife, Omunique (Regina Hall), has threatened to move south with their son, Durell Jr. (C.J. Sanders), unless Durell can come up with $17,000. When selling pimped-out wheelchairs goes awry, Durell and LeeJohn concoct a plan to rob the local church, which has over $200,000 on hand for future renovations.
In addition to the faulty premise, which effortlessly lends itself to writer / director David E. Talbert’s preachy agenda, the movie just plain isn’t funny. Scenes start off with promise, as when Durell and LeeJohn first try to blow up the church’s safe, but end flatly as the screenplay always goes for the obvious gag. This is the pattern for the film as whole, and that does not earn it the overly-sentimental ending it shoots for in the final fifteen minutes.
Cube and Morgan are both in a mode of desperation throughout, and that goes double for Morgan as he takes overacting to a new dimension. Every line he speaks is forced, almost as if he knows it’s not funny and is just doing his best to try and compensate. Cube stays a bit more down-to-earth and can be likable, but his character is too moronic to be saved. The supporting cast actually fares better. Katt Williams, a funny man who is basically reduced to a one-liner machine here, does earn some laughs and steals nearly every scene he’s in. Chi McBride, who spends most of the movie duct-taped to a chair, adds nominal class to the project.
First Sunday undoubtedly takes notes from the Tyler Perry handbook as it goes for comedy understating a moral lesson. The bad news is that neither works (like most Perry projects). It’s too little too late by the time we reach the sappy ending and inevitable courtroom sequence. Fans of Cube, Morgan, and even Williams may find a little something to take away from this routine material, but it by no means is worthy of your top movie dollar.
Studio: Screen Gems
Length: 96 Minutes
Rating: PG-13 for language, some sexual humor, and brief drug references.
Theatrical Release: January 11, 2008
Directed by: David E. Talbert
Written by: David E. Talbert
Cast: Ice Cube, Katt Williams, Tracy Morgan, Loretta Devine, Michael Beach, Keith David