First Sunday is the first comedy of the new year, starring and produced by Ice Cube (Are We There Yet?). Though he comes off well enough as a thespian, here, he can't save what is weak and bumbling for the most part, rather than lively and humorous.
Starring himself and Tracy Morgan, David E. Talbert's picture has religious overtones from the means and ends of Cube's Durell and Morgan's LeeJohn. However, this game enterprise (set in the Baltimore area) is rendered so broadly in terms of character and story that it may not score so well even in urban markets.
Durell looks to be bright enough to have a decent career, but can't avoid the illicit mind-set of dim-bulb con-artist LeeJohn. The wispy premise relies on the fact that Durell is talked into sneaking away from a neighborhood church with its building fund (by his best friend?). It seems that Durell is in a jam to cover a $17,000 debt which involves the baby's mother, a snappy Regina Hall, not relocating to Atlanta.
Much of First Sunday happens "in the presence of the Lord" in a hostage situation that has their financial predicament undernourished to say the least. Someone like a Tyler Perry perhaps could have spruced up the direction a bit, as Talbert's preacher heritage doesn't serve him well at all.
Eventually, this desperate plan leads to bickering among those held up in the congregation. Ice Cube turns into referee and air-conditioner troubleshooter while Morgan sees the light within the bickering community of worshipers. Among the supporting cast, Chi McBride is the pastor with Malinda Williams as the bodacious daughter. A conniving deacon is conveyed by Michael Beach, a church secretary by Loretta Devine (This Christmas), and a very avid choir director by Katt Williams (Norbit).
The humor never really develops with the propensity found in Barbershop which Ice Cube also produced. First Sunday feels content with stereotypes as it plods to an upbeat finish that hardly is a payoff. It might just be hard to find comedy in God's "mysterious" house.