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Blu-ray Review

DVD cover

First Sunday


Starring: Ice Cube, Tracy Morgan, Katt Williams, Loretta Devine and Michael Beach
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
RRP: £24.99
Certificate: 12
Available 21 July 2008

Sentenced to 5,000 hours of community service, Durell Jefferson's life quickly goes from bad to worse. Realizing that the Lord helps those who help themselves, he eventually decides to help himself to the neighbourhood church's building fund. Accompanied by his dimwitted partner-in-crime LeeJohn, the two down-on-their-luck men are dismayed to discover the cash has already been stolen, so they hold the congregation hostage in a attempt to learn who amongst the righteous has already run away with their loot...

For some reason that I still can't fathom First Sunday was almost universally panned by the critics on its cinematic release. It's well acted and directed, has a great story and is both funny and touching. So why did so many reviewers dislike it so much?

This is David E. Talbert's directorial debut and to be honest he doesn't put a foot wrong. Ice Cube plays Durell, an intelligent man who is dragged down by his waster friend LeeJohn (played by Tracy Morgan). Time after time one of LeeJohn's schemes has gone wrong and the two keep ended up in front of a judge.

When LeeJohn's latest moneymaking scheme, to offload some tricked-out wheelchairs, goes wrong the pair narrowly escape a jail sentence - instead they get 5,000 hours of community service.

When Durell's ex-wife is forced make plans to move out of town because of financial problems it looks like Durell will never see his young son again. His son is the one thing in his life that matter to him, so Durell makes him a promise; that he will find the money to ensure that they can stay in their flat.

When Durell and LeeJohn wander into a church, after following a woman they both fancy, they discover that the congregation is throwing money at the Lord every time they visit. With this in mind, the two plan to rob the church safe in the dead of night. A great plan, but with a slight drawback, when they come back the church is not empty it's full. Not only that, but when they finally break into the safe they discover that one of the congregation has beat them to it.

This movie succeeds in every respect. The humour is spot on - over the top when necessary, but always true to the characters. The only time I felt that the comedy was there as padding was Rickey Smiley and Red Grant's scene as Bernice Jenkins and Harold. While these were great little cameos, the scene could have easily been cut - and in my opinion should have been.

Michael Beach, who Stargate: Atlantis fans will recognise as Colonel Abe Ellis, also puts in a great appearance as the scheming Deacon.

Extras include Audio Commentary with Writer/Director David E. Talbert (Very informative commentary that outlines Talbert's thoughts on the movie. It was interesting to hear his opinions on the creative aspect of movie making - particularly his flexibility with allowing actors to ad lib); Deleted Scenes (34 mins, 47 sec look at some of the scenes cut from the final edit. These include the scene with Talbert's wife and the scene with Durell and his grandmother. This featurette also comes with an optional director's commentary); Gag Reel (4 min, 25 sec of outtakes); Outtakes (another 5 min, 10 sec of outtakes); David E. Talbert's Camera Wrap Speech (3 min, 09 sec end of shoot wrap speech with Talbert); Hood Robbin' with the First Sunday Cast and Crew (16 min, 08 sec behind the scenes featurette); and The Almighty Version Enhanced Fact Track (on screen information that pops up to give you a greater insight into the movie).

I really enjoyed this film. It has something in it that will appeal to everyone and it was refreshing to watch a movie where the ending could have gone either way. This is certainly a film I'd recommend checking out.


Darren Rea

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