MR. CHURCH: MISGUIDED BETWEEN RACE

A drama is a genre that is represented in any kind of play, opera, mime, ballet and even on the big screen it has to be. This film got a few nominations but did not win anything due to its plot line. 

Eddie Murphy knew from his roles of being a comedian this is his other phase of being an actor he is the frontrunner in this film. This the first movie he has ever after a hiatus from the big screen, which did not turn well due to the Mr. Church representation of characters. This is the film is about true friendship says in the title at the beginning of this film. I will break down every part of the film so that we can understand how this film has representation, structure, underlying narration and double meaning situations here in the film is prevalent. It is simply a “misguided interracial drama” according to Ebert, 2016.

Henry Joseph Church had everything he wanted, had everything he wanted to be as a open sequence in this film as Charlie narrates this story. The story started when Charlotte “Charlie” (played by Britt Robertson) lives with her single mother Marie Brooks (played by Natascha McElhone) in a small apartment near the bus station in Los Angeles, California. An early morning for school, she then was awakened by the good aroma that is coming from the kitchen. It was then Mr. Church (Eddie Murphy) is cooking them breakfast. Her mother informed her that man is going to be their brand-new cook. Charlie is a bit disrespectful to Mr. Church due to his African-American features; she urges her mom to fire Mr. Church because she doesn’t like him. Mr. Church informed Marie that Richard Cannon an entrepreneur had provided financial support and lifetime salary to care for Charlie and Marie. It is revealed that Marie has terminal breast cancer that she has approximately six months to live. Marie decided then to keep Mr. Church as their cook by the reason he makes the scrumptious meals for the family. Charlie still doesn’t know that her mom has the big C.Charlie has a best friend name Poppy and she has a boy crush named Owen Baxter she then spends time with them. While going home, Charlie rides the bus with Eddie Larson (played by Christian Madsen), a man finished military school but had his driver’s license revoked due to manslaughter; he drunk drive and crashed in front of a house resulted that killed a sleeping old couple. 

In this scene, we can see that Mr. Church is like a slave of Richard Cannon which we don’t know due to his mysteriousness. Set in the 1970’s it is still slavery that African-American people are still seen working on households of white people. There is an underlying meaning of why Mr. Church is represented to be African-American here. Where there is a line that the young Charlie mentioned “we have a new cook and he’s black” that really an insult due to its release in 2016 that people are quite woke with racism. It has to be perfect in the role and also to be pitied. But Eddie Murphy delivered his role very well but in a different spice wherein as I watched it; Mr. Church is a well-respected man that cooks good gourmet food and a person of sorts not a person to be pitied. This part is how Charlie is seeking information about Mr. Church but Mr. Church knows more about them; Charlie and her mom. 

After six years, turns out her Momma is a miracle. Marie still lives but her health has declined. Mr. Church has become the sorts of sorts in different passions. He became a bookworm that lends books to Charlie every weekend, a sketch artist, jazz pianist, gardener, gourmet cook and mostly now part of their family. Charlie now a senior high student grows close to Mr. Church due to her mother can’t be their always due to her situation. Owen (played by Xavier Samuel) who has always had a crush with Charlie since the third grade, he invites Charlie to go to the prom with him. Charlie is reluctant but Marie had promised Charlie if she goes she’s going to be alive to see it. She made her promise. Everything went well that night, they took a good photo; Marie, Charlie wearing her prom dress and Mr. Church. A week later, Charlie has just gotten off the bus stop fetched by Mr. Church he delivered the news that Marie had passed away. During Marie’s wake, Charlie narrates this line “People act strangely around death. There are those who talk about everything but the person who died. Those who talked about only the person who died. Those who try to cheer you up. And those who can’t help but make you cry. And then there are those who say nothing at all because they don’t have to.” This line got the gist of everything Charlie is feeling about her mom’s death. 

It was then revealed that Mr. Church is a good man that did everything for Charlie to be okay and well-taken care of. Which means Mr. Church only did the big effort here, it is a bit hollow between the two of them wherein Mr. Church knows more information about Charlie rather that they have equally known each other very well that span of time they had to spend with each other’s company.

Then college came Mr. Church had saved enough money from her mom’s coupons. Charlie get accepted at Boston University. Two years after Charlie became pregnant, she decides to stay with Mr. Church to take a break from her studies. He then agrees but there is one rule that comes up, that she should respect his privacy. Charlie notices that Mr. Church gets drunk twice  a week and argues that there are no matches in the place called Jelly’s. One night when Charlie started snooping around Mr. Church’s room, she then has been caught by a drunk Mr. Church. He throws her away and leaves the next day where she was run down by a kid on skate board. Larson her old friend who has not driven in over a decade nevertheless drives her to the hospital and made it on time. Mr. Church comes to the hospital takes Charlie back with him. Charlie gives birth to a baby girl name Izzy. 

Where this part is also about how Mr. Church gives more to Charlie like his own daughter because of that friendship and companionship they had in the past that surfaces up until that moment when they need each other for the betterment of each other’s future. This is how reckless Charlie has been pregnant out of wedlock.

Five years after, Charlie and Mr. Church are raising Izzy as a Blended Family. The three of them attended Larson’s wedding where Larson revealed that he almost had committed suicide that day he saw her in the parking lot. Rescuing Charlie and Izzy saved his life. Then her childhood best friend Poppy reunites with her where Poppy achieved the life she wanted to achieve since grade school is to have a fabulous lifestyle. Charlie had a little argument with Poppy due to belittling her for not wanting to have independence and leave Mr. Church’s care, she reveals then that Mr. Church support both Charlie and Marie back then and also now with Izzy. Mr. Church unable to cook for them Charlie begins to cook and learn that she has inherited Mr. Church’s talent in cooking. By the reason he is sick Charlie decided to take him to the hospital where Owen her childhood lover is the doctor where they rekindle their past romance. Mr. Church grows sicker and dies later on due enlarge heart. Charlie meets the owner of Jelly’s where she discovers that Mr. Church played the piano there for thirty years. She then narrates this line again, “People act strangely around death. There are those who talk about everything but the person who died. Those who talked about only the person who died. Those who try to cheer you up. And those who can’t help but make you cry. And then there are those who say nothing at all because they don’t have to.” She then learns that Mr. Church is a walking mystery that you are the one who’s going to know him better if you look for information about him. The film end Charlie writing a story in perspective of her with Mr. Church in it.

This is when the writers of this film gave the character Mr. Church some daddy issue between Charlie and him due to he takes Charlie again for her to take care of Izzy. It is a bit late where Charlie had to give back for Mr. Church after how much effort he did when she was younger. He comes home drunk whenever he goes to Jelly’s every night. It did not well off balance from the beginning of the story up to the exposition. 

In conclusion, this film did not give much justice to the role of Mr. Church due to after his death it has more secrets yet to unfold about Mr. Church. This film focuses on how Mr. Church and Charlie turned out to be a blended family that raised Izzy. It is not a biopic about him but how he does things. This is also a wrong example of a writer, director and most important filmmakers that Negro washing or at least fix what has to be fixed in a problematic film plot. They think that it is still acceptable this kind of interracial topic. Mr. Church proved independence in the film where he does not depend on the two. But the story itself depends on Mr. Church and Charlie mostly. If there is no Charlie there is no story about Mr. Church they are the two puzzle pieces that fit together. Mr. Church is a nobleman that has no story within him without the presence of Charlie in the movie. Probably Mr. Church can’t share his side of the story because Charlie is the brat and judges everything wherein he hides as a gay man just making way to a normal life. As I remind it again that Mr. Church is set in the ’70s where it is not normal to be gay and also he is an African-American man. It is hard to open up about being gay. Jelly’s Café I think is where he can be himself every night as he goes there, playing the piano how he likes it, socialize with different people as he enjoys his jazz music. That is why it explains that he has no family or wife. He lives alone in his house. He doesn’t want to expose himself to Maria and Charlie. And I also think that Mr. Church hides something like Shakespeare was here in this film he is gay where the line he mentioned “Don’t call me fag!” and “Why did you put me out?” I think that his big secret that the writers don’t want the audience to know or they just want it to have a sort of a cliff hanger due to the story itself it turned out to be a whirlwind of not so sure emotions and reactions. In addition, I think that filmmakers now should normalize that any movie might have a homosexual character even though it is a serious type of film it also addresses different social issues for us the current generation to now normalize on what we have here right now. Lastly, Eddie Murphy did not do well with the role well because I’m not used to his serious face and mostly in an awkward scene in the film you don’t know if he’s joking or not. And also Britt Robertson acting is the same as every time she is in a film.

Reference list: 

MR. CHURCH | Movieguide | Movie Reviews for Christians. (2017, August 18). Retrieved from https://www.movieguide.org/reviews/mr-church.html

 Chen, Sandie Angulo. “Mr. Church – Movie Review.” Common Sense Media: Ratings, Reviews, and Advice, Common Sense Media, 15 Sept. 2016, http://www.commonsensemedia.org/movie-reviews/mr-church.

“Mr. Church.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 27 Dec. 2018, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mr._Church.

Henderson, Odie. “Mr. Church Movie Review & Film Summary (2016) | Roger Ebert.” RogerEbert.com, Brian Grazer, 16 Sept. 2016, http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/mr-church-2016.

YourDictionary. “Examples of Narration.” YourDictionary, 30 June 2016, examples.yourdictionary.com/examples-of-narration.html.

“Narrative.” Film Reference, www.filmreference.com/encyclopedia/Independent-Film-Road-Movies/Narrative-DEFINING-FILM-NARRATIVE.html.

All pictures from tumblr, credits to their respective owners.

Danielle Rain D. Lopez

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