Ice Cube is plunged deep into a crisis of faith in First Sunday, and anyone who sits through this family comedy will surely feel his pain. He stars as Durell, a hapless father of one, who, on the brink of going to jail, figures that robbing the local church is the answer to all his problems. It's a bad move for sure, but the root of all evil is a rotten script by director David E. Talbert.
Confusion reigns from the outset as Durell somehow gets caught up in a car chase with a vanload of stolen, pimped-up wheelchairs. In the driver's seat is his spectacularly dumb friend Lee-John (Tracy Morgan) who has both the police and a trio of Jamaican gangsters on his tail. Surprisingly the pair avoid prison but the Jamaicans still want reimbursement for their lost chairs and Durell needs $17,000 to keep his ex (Regina Hall) from upping sticks with their son. As the church coffers apparently spilleth over with cash, they set their minds to a stick-up.
Of course the Christian hostages encourage Durell and Lee-John to consider an alternative path, but it's one that inadvertently leads to soul-sapping tedium. Talbert lays on the spiritual stuff a bit too thick, especially in scenes involving Lee-John, who whines about his rough childhood and even sheds a tear in a moment of quiet reflection. It just doesn't ring true after so much rubber-faced mugging. What's really piteous is the lack of any decent gags to break the monotony. The story falls flat just at the point where it should all kick off, and instead of eliciting sympathy, Ice Cube actually becomes less likeable. Loretta Devine and Olivia Cole shine out as veteran members of the flock, but even their class combined is no saving grace.
First Sunday is out in the UK on 28th March 2008.