Mr. Church - D
Rated PG-14, 104 minutes
This "Church" is not a blessing. Based on a true story that has to be better than this creaky, oversentimental tripe, "Mr. Church" is directed by "Driving Ms. Daisy's" Bruce Beresford and finding comedian Eddie Murphy in Serious Actor Role. Granted, some of Eddie's cinematic failures can be attributed to him, but this one isn't all his fault, with an offensive story from writer Susan McMartin and based on her life and lackluster direction from Beresford in a story that feel like a third-rate "Daisy" or "The Help." When a young girl named Charlie (Britt Robertson, bland) and her dying mother (Natasha McElhone, miscast) are joined by a saintly black male cook named Mr. Church (Murphy), who comes to live with them, little do they know that their lives are about to change forever. The best thing that could be said about the familiar, soapy drama "Mr. Church" is the delicious meals that the lead character whips up out of nowhere, which appear with much more flavor than the maudlin, uneven story. For one, the title is a bit misleading, given the real focus on Robertson's Charlie character, and the fact that Mr. Church is the most underwritten character in the movie. Even at the movie's end, we still know very, very little about him, and there's no real explanation as to why he made such a huge impact on this family, outside of those delectable meals or helping with the bills. Murphy, for his part, does a fine job outwardly, though the script's offensive, shallow handling of his character, with little explanation of his habits. Where did he learn to cook so well? Why does he love books so much? And where is his family? Why is he so generous? What prompted his love for jazz? Again, all questions that are never fully explained throughout the film. I wanted to like this movie, but the saccharine flows too heavily in "Mr. Church" and is mishandled by Beresford, becoming mostly a forgettable outlet for Murphy to show us he can act - yes, he can - now just select better material next time.