Not Another Church Movie Review: Thank You Perry Much SuperNayr

The good news — pun intended — about Not Another Church Movie is that it’s nowhere near as bad as the Jason Friedberg/Aaron Seltzer atrocities that didn’t just kill the parody subgenre but scorched the earth beneath it for a while. Unlike sheer lazy garbage like Meet the Spartans, Johnny Mack’s Tyler Perry spoof has actual jokes, and not just recreated scenes from other movies. The bad news is it’s still not very well made — Mack’s genuinely funny script is let down by his own pedestrian direction. A former writer for reality TV and awards shows, Mack’s making his feature debut here (actor James Michael Cummings gets a co-director credit at the end), and unless the meta-joke is that it’s deliberately clumsily directed to reflect Tyler Perry’s early films, it feels very much like a first movie full of growing pains.

Hell, even if it is designed to mock Perry’s directorial learning curve, it still doesn’t work as such. Award-show humor requires a different sort of timing than a fiction film, and the editing here veers between too slow, awkwardly sudden, and working around the fact that Jamie Foxx (as God) and Mickey Rourke (as Satan) clearly showed up in front of a green screen for just one day apiece. By all appearances, Foxx couldn’t be bothered (or perhaps paid) to show up for reshoots and ADR, so half his scenes replace him with digital distortion.

Wiggin’ out

Fortunately, the movie has a strong lead in relative unknown Kevin Daniels (Passing Through) in the dual role of Taylor Pherry and his aunt MaDude. It’s a running gag that “Pherry” is said with a silent “p,” allowing the characters to make jokes involving hairy, fairy, and “his P don’t work.” Those aside, the best jokes in the movie involve the not-so-thinly veiled homoeroticism in so many Perry films, and much like them, it never quite comes out and says the obvious.

Daniels plays Pherry as the most perfect human being alive in a storyline that points out the absurdity of all the familial connections in the Perry-verse, as well as all the saintly characters Perry plays out of drag. Chosen by God to become the heir apparent to media and faith icon “Hoprah Windfall” (Luc Ashley), he sets out to write a movie about understanding women and decides to use his own extremely extended family as source material.

In recent years, the Madea movies have become purely broad comedies, to the point that the last one even did a crossover with the Irish sitcom Mrs. Brown’s Boys. So it’s hard to actually parody her as a character — at its best, the banter between MaDude and the Joe character (not played by Daniels) sounds like it could be from a real Madea movie. On the other hand, the Leroy Brown character is ripe for mockery, and Yves B. Claude, who worked with the real Perry on Ruthless, is the right level of exaggeration as “Mr. Leroy Black.”

Holy Rolling

Like all good parodies, Not Another Church Movie is at its best when it mocks things you may not have even realized were tropes. The melodramatic line delivery, multiple-role actors (codirector Cummings plays almost every token white villain), excessively noble victims, meet-cutes, dream dudes, orchestral cues, and every other Perry signature trope come in for skewering. In the tradition of the Wayans brothers parody movies, Mack also milks humor from incongruous ghetto stereotypes in places they ought not to be. Cameo appearances from the likes of Jasmine Guy and Tisha Campbell, meanwhile, feel exactly like some of Perry’s stunt casting.

There is a lot about the movie that works, and the jokes hit more than they don’t (Shake Weights and Oprah’s “You Get a Car!” episode haven’t been topical in years, come on). So why doesn’t it work better? Seldom has a movie felt so in need of another pass in the editing bay — even a Perry movie. Terrible, cheap visual effects make scenes even uglier than the basic cinematography, and a tighter story, either in the script or edit stage, would go a long way to giving the humor the pacing it desperately lacks. Yes, Jamie Foxx has a killer Donald Trump impersonation — what comedian doesn’t? But putting it in out of nowhere as a random aside has little to do with anything except perhaps maximizing every frame of his footage.

Save a Prayer

Still, Not Another Church Movie has enough laughs to possibly become a cult movie in the vein of something like Pootie Tang. Perry aficionados ought to see it at least once, but it looks and feels so cheap that you’ll hate yourself for paying full price. Those waiting for a parody of more whitebread church-based films like God’s Not Dead can keep waiting; the fan base for those is not known for its ability to enjoy self-mockery.

Grade: 6/10

As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a 6 means “Decent. It fails to reach its full potential and is a run-of-the-mill experience.”

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