Film Review: ‘I’m in Love with a Church Girl’

I'm in Love with a Church

Even having God on the production team can't save this 'Church Girl' from its heavy-handed sermonizing.

The road to hell is paved with well-intentioned clunkers like “I’m in Love with a Church Girl,” a strenuously sincere but tediously schematic and heavy-handed attempt at cinematic proselytizing for Christianity. To be sure, one doesn’t expect much in the way of subtlety from filmmakers sufficiently hubristic to list God as an executive producer. (Inquiring minds want to know: Did He get points?) But like most other recent evangelistic pics, this one isn’t likely to reach beyond its target flock.

Didactically scripted by Galley Molina, a real-life pastor who reportedly based the screenplay on his own born-again experiences, and slackly directed by Steve Race, “Church Girl” tells the come-to-Jesus story of Miles Montego (rapper-actor Jeff “Ja Rule” Atkins), a former drug kingpin who has reinvented himself as a legit concert promoter. Unfortunately, Miles undermines his reformation by hanging out with longtime buddies still active as gangstas. Even more unfortunately, his every move is monitored by DEA agents (Stephen Baldwin, Martin Kove) who have little faith in Miles’ ability to go straight. Michael Madsen appears, fleetingly, as a third DEA agent, but the brevity of his role suggests that he didn’t believe what was going on, either, and simply didn’t show up after the first day of filming.

For all his efforts to please his anxious mom (affectingly played by Marjorie Mann) and completely change his wicked ways, Miles doesn’t really achieve righteousness until he meets Vanessa (Adrienne Bailon), a lovely committed Christian. Miles is so smitten with this beauty that he agrees to attend her church — where the Lamborghini-driving pastor is played, in a bold stroke of casting, by Molina himself — and even accepts her prohibition on premarital sex. (The pic’s one funny moment: Miles takes a cold shower after failing to smooth-talk Vanessa into a fall from grace.) But when Miles is blindsided by back-to-back tragedies, his faith is sorely tested. Which leads, of course, to an intercession by one of the executive producers.

Despite being saddled with some of the pic’s sappiest dialogue, Ja Rule offers a performance that is borderline miraculous. He is never less than credible, and often surprisingly compelling. He’s especially effective in a scene that could have turned laughably silly if he had made one wrong move, when Miles plaintively addresses a massive stained-glass window image of Jesus while seeking divine guidance. By sharp contrast, most other performances in “Church Girl” are pitched at the level of overemphasizing the obvious. Production values are better than they have to be.

Vanessa, it should be noted, works at a shop where “faith-based products” — books, CDs, T-shirts, etc. — are sold. It’s the sort of establishment where, very soon, you’ll be able to purchase DVDs of this movie.

Film Review: 'I'm in Love with a Church Girl'

Reviewed on DVD, Houston, Oct. 19, 2013. MPAA Rating: PG. Running time: 118 MIN. 

Production

A High Top Releasing release of a Reverence Gospel Media Films presentation of an RGM-Newbreed production. Produced by Galley Molina, Michael K. Race, Sean Dinwoodie, Steve Race. Executive producers, Gerald T. Olson, Sally Anderson, Israel Houghton, Galley Molina, God.

Crew

Directed by Steve Race. Screenplay, Galley Molina. Camera (color), Keith Duggan; editor, Taichi Erskine; music, Bruce L. Fowler, Israel Houghton; music supervisor, Tim Anderson; production designer, Douglas Freeman; set decorator, Heidi Strykiewicz; sound, Carrie Sheldon; assistant director, Scott Cameron; casting, Grant Ellis. 

With

Jeff “Ja Rule” Atkins, Adrienne Bailon, Stephen Baldwin, Vincent Pastore, Michael Madsen, T-Bone, Martin Kove, Toby Mac, Marjorie Mann.

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  1. Mark Mauauri says:

    Haven’t seen the movie yet but through the making of this movie … I saw a interview of Ja Rule giving His Life to the Lord and admitting that he thought he wasn’t worthy of God after the movie was finished .. that for me rates this movie 10 out of 10 …God Bless all those that watch this movie… everyone has the right to speak freely of there own opinion good or bad doesn’t matter God still gave His Life for you …

  2. yolanda says:

    Its amazing that movies that don’t have sex, violence, and demons in it are frowned upon. I hope that the eyes of your understanding will be opened and you would come out of darkness into His marvelous light because its a sad thing when good is looked at as bad. You will see soon Who is in control.

    • milameel says:

      It’s very difficult to take Christians seriously when anytime they’re met with criticism, the opponent is labeled as violent loving atheist who must be prayed for.

      Just because a movie involves god does not mean it is a good movie. Your movies will be criticized just like everyone else. We’re not giving everyone gold medals just because “Oh, this subject is dear to me.”

      Suck it up.

  3. Susan Edlich says:

    Loved the movie! It proves someone can change, be successful, find true love, have fun and still be a Christian, saved by faith and become a living example of one. A great movie for teenagers! Thank you

  4. Tif Young says:

    I want to see it but I don’t think it is showing at my cinema

  5. Too bad this jackass had a bias going into the film, and couldn’t see past his own myopic/anti-Christian rants to write an honest review. Then again, am I really asking for objectivity in the media nowadays?

  6. Brian says:

    I think it will make a great Sunday afternoon flick on the Lifetime Movie Network.

    • Cherrie Colson says:

      I saw the movie and i thought it had a great message , God is in control and i thought putting him as the ex. producer was a great statement. Making the movie was even greater, a witness, and a praise to our Father who loves us and wants us to love Him back…I pray that this movie will touch someone elses heart., and make them realize that God meets you where you are, and will forgive anything if we ask.
      God Bless all that read this, pass the word, great film, no matter what Variety has to say about it…

      • Amen, Cherrie. Thanks for your support and spreading the word! Really honored you liked the film.

      • LOL says:

        Are you for real, Cherrie Colson? Are you being ironic and stuff? Do you honestly think God deserves a producer credit on movies? Really???

        America baffles me. Just when I think I’m finally understanding the way you think, you go and throw this crap at me. God help you.

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