Anjelika Washington Slays in Gospel Comedy Praise This
As someone who grew up COGIC (Church of God in Christ) and singing in the Sunshine Band (children’s choir) many elements of this film were familiar and familial. Leave it to Will Packer, being the pied piper for the culture, to bring this story to the masses in a way that only he could make resonate on every possible visceral level.
A Peacock Original directed by Tina Gordon (Little, What Men Want, Drumline), Praise This follows a musically driven Sam (Chloe Bailey) determined to break into theindustry by any means necessary. So, when her father (Phillip Fornah) becomes concerned she may following the dangerous dead end path of her peers and constituents, he moves them from Los Angeles to Atlanta to live with Sam’s cousin Jess (Anjelika Washington). But when Sam joins Jess’ struggling praise team, she’s seizes the opportunity to finally become the musical superstar of her dreams not realizing her ambition will ultimately change her life and those around her.
Joining Gordon in screenplay duties, is the Murder Ink writing team (Brandon Broussard & Hudson Obayuwana & Jana Savage), who get it all right regarding the judgement that comes with being different rather than traditional in the church. The pastor who looks too young and covered in tattoos, the antiquated costumes making the praise team look like they are “about to unveil the new iPhone” and the dynamic shenanigans of the members themselves, ranging from the control freak to the one who riffs one note too many.
The premise of taking gospel music and making it sound mainstream is tackled repeatedly with other films of this genre like the Beyoncé flick “The Fighting Temptations, ” “Joyful Noise” with Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton and of course the classic choir film “Sister Act” starring EGOT winner Whoopi Goldberg. All of which are greatly entertaining, most predictable and seemingly streamlined for the specific audience of the star of that time. This time it’s geared for fans of Chloe Bailey, who is scorching hot at the moment.
Having said that, it is Anjelika Washington who steals the film from every scene partner she encouters. My favorite moment is her wretchedly off-key rendition of the Toni Braxton hit “Unbreak My Heart” while dogs howl in the background. It is pure comedy, as is Washingto, who is extremely reminiscent of the “Clueless” star, the late Brittany Murphy. Like Murphy, Washington’s comic timing is effortlessly impeccable.
Delivered right on time for the Easter weekend, the songs will entice you to catch the holy spirit, clap your hands and tap your toes simultaneously. Praise This is a rare film the whole family can watchand come away a little lighter in spirit than when they entered the theater.