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First Sunday

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Combining the hijinks of the Friday series with the spiritual bent of Tyler Perry's work seems like an obvious move. For producer/star Ice Cube, it's also a dishonest one. Cube previously played a Christian in Three Kings, but because First Sunday supports Christian ideals (like in Perry films, the story is occasionally interrupted by a gospel choir), it's a dubious project for Cube to sign to his Cube Vision production company. A follower of the Nation of Islam, Ice Cube recorded the 1993 track "When I Get to Heaven," urging black listeners away from Christianity. Cube is no longer the controversial artist he was 15 years ago, but the sincerity of that song's lyrics---breaking from the role-playing of his gangsta persona---meant something. It's Ice Cube's charisma on screen that sells his arc in First Sunday. As Durell, Cube's told he'll lose his son unless he pays a $17,000 debt. With his goofy friend LeeJohn (Tracy Morgan), he robs a church. There are times when writer/director David E. Talbert (a successful playwright) brings real insight to two men's delayed recognition of adult responsibility. Morgan and Cube's comic chemistry is on point. But the film isn't as energetic as the Friday movies or as earnest as Perry's, leaving First Sunday an uncommitted muddle.

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