I consider comedy to be my least favorite genre when it comes to film because it’s just so hard to get things right for 90 minutes. While a thriller can recover from implausibility issues if the payoff is good enough, and an action flick can be successful without an actual plot as long as there are enough explosions and shooting, nothing can mask an unfunny comedy. That point was driven home again and again when I recently sat down to watch First Sunday.
Plot summary (with possible spoilers): Durell (played by Ice Cube) and LeeJohn (Tracey Morgan) are a couple of petty crooks always in need of money. Durell needs $17,240 to help pay the lease on his ex-wife’s hair salon, otherwise she’ll take their son and move away to Atlanta. LeeJohn needs money to cover the cost of a bunch of expensive stolen wheelchairs that he lost while doing a job for a local gangster.
Because of their past convictions, nobody will hire Durell or LeeJohn for a legitimate job. Driven to desperation by what will happen if they can’t come up with money soon, the two decide to rob a local church after the first Sunday of the month when all the big donations come in.
The plan doesn’t go smoothly, however, and Durell and LeeJohn end up encountering far more than they bargained for when they break into the church. What was supposed to be a simple robbery turns first into a hostage situation, then into a life-altering experience as the two men get to know the people from the church.
My Reaction: I rented this DVD with pretty low expectations about the movie since I’d read some negative reviews in the past — and I still managed to come away disappointed! First Sunday was just bad, bad, bad… no wonder it currently “boasts” a 3.0 rating on IMDb!
The setup itself — with Durell and LeeJohn needing money quickly — was okay, but the lack of character development, coupled with some bad acting and unfunny lines, led to a tedious experience from start to finish.
I have to say that Tracey Morgan’s involvement really dragged the film down. I’ve been watching him on 30 Rock, and have grown to actually like his character on that show. It seemed that he played a somewhat dumbed down version of his 30 Rock persona in this film, resulting in a character that was sorely out of place.
Other problems I had with the film included the fact that LeeJohn and Durell’s sudden conversion wasn’t developed well enough and came off as a convenient plot contrivance, as did the churchgoers’ willingness to forgive and forget so quickly. Sure, they’re supposed to turn the other cheek or whatever, but that was stretching it.
Overall, First Sunday was neither funny nor entertaining, so I wouldn’t recommend wasting your time on it. I give it 1 star out of 5.