Mr. Church (2016)
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as Henry Church
as Young Owen
as Young Poppy
as Frankie Twiggs
as Young Charlotte
as Checkout Girl
as Bus Driver
as Charlotte's Roommate
as Student Michael
as Diner #2
as Diner #1
as College Student
as College Student
as Charlotte's College Boyfriend
as Kid on Skateboard
as Stand-In Mr. Church
as Mrs. Dickerman
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Critic Reviews for Mr. Church
It's repugnant for its dehumanizing view (however unintentionally so) of a black man, and repugnant for its emptying-out of one of the great black performers of the time into a sanitized symbol of acceptable blackness.
After helming this, an episode of Roots and Best Picture-winner Driving Miss Daisy, Beresford should be forced to join 'Subservient Cinematic Negroes Anonymous.'
Murphy's low-key but affecting performance is filled with loaded and loving glances. And the restraint becomes the 55-year-old star. If only the film were better.
Murphy is fine as the title character, although his performance consists mostly of suppressing all of his usual shtick. He certainly doesn't endow Mr. Church with any unexpected depths. But then neither does the script.
Somehow Murphy manages to lift his dignified, all-knowing servant character off the page, giving a meticulously composed performance in a vehicle that can't help but feel superficially repackaged.
Audience Reviews for Mr. Church
This is a rare film in the sense that it is probably one of Eddie Murphy's best performances in a very, very long time. That says something. The story was enjoyable, heartfelt and heartwarming and I really enjoyed it.
While Mr. Church might have initially been looked at as something of a return to quality movie-making for star Eddie Murphy it is more a return to the realm of inoffensive movie making than anything else. Mr. Church is certainly no Pluto Nash or Norbit...hell, it's not even Meet Dave (which I admittedly never finished), but it isn't the high-reaching piece of transcendent cinema that encapsulates all the major themes of one's life that illustrates mistakes made and identities redeemed that it seemed to want so badly to be in its trailers either. Rather, Mr. Church is a pleasant enough distraction about a kind-hearted man that is largely elevated by the credible performances of its two leads. Both Murphy and Britt Robertson (Tomorrowland) deliver the necessary sympathies to draw on audience emotions that keep us invested in the sometimes tedious story that strings us along for decades with large stretches where little to nothing happens or is revealed. Fortunately, it isn't really the narrative that is meant to drive Mr. Church though, but rather the core relationship that forms between Murphy's titular character and Robertson's Charlotte Brody which remains the reason we become and stay as invested as we do throughout the sometimes tepid 100-minute runtime. The film, which comes from TV writing veteran Susan McMartin in her first feature film credit, feels rather episodic as a result with director Bruce Beresford (Driving Miss Daisy, Double Jeopardy) doing little to add any filmmaking flairs as, at the age of seventy-six, seems to be on auto pilot. In that way, Mr. Church is very much a competently made and sometimes even emotionally affecting film, but most of the time it feels like a Hallmark movie that is emotionally manipulative for reasons of knowing it has little else to offer by way of connecting with its audience. It is a holiday Hallmark film that escaped the clutches of such a fate by appealing to talent such as Mr. Murphy by being a project not typically offered to the comedian and thus an opportunity after an intentional hiatus to do something different. Murphy, while doing his best to salvage this sappy if not occasionally comforting piece of melodrama can't rescue the project from total mediocrity, but he puts forth a valiant effort and that is duly noted. read the whole review at www.reviewsfromabed.com
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