FIRST SUNDAY (**) - Starring Ice Cube, Tracy Morgan, Katt Williams, Loretta Devine, Michael Beach, Keith David, Chi McBride and Regina Hall.
Written & Directed by David E. Talbert.
Tracy Morgan may have been on Saturday Night Live, but when it comes to acting, he seems capable of only one character, the dense man-child. I see no difference between him here and on 30 Rock and on most of the SNL skits he ever did. That persona can be funny, but without Tina Fey writing for him, that persona's just tired.
Here he is the buddy to Ice Cube in this conventional, predictable, contrived sitcom of a movie, where two decent guys decide to rob a church. Two decent guys robbing a church? Well, the deck is stacked. Cube's character needs the money to keep his ex-wife from moving out of state with their son; Morgan's character needs the money to pay off some gangsters.
Trouble is, once they get the safe open, the money's already gone. Huh? So they hold the church members hostage until they can figure out who stole the money.
Cube is used to being straight man in comedies. It worked in the Friday movies and the Barbershop movies, and I had no problem with it here. He's never been funny at it, but he's pretty good at keeping a straight face while others try to earn laughs. Any laughs squeezed out of this script were courtesy of Katt Williams as the choir director. His one-liners occasionally worked. For every two groaners, one would work.
You know exactly where the "feel-good" plot is going, so the pleasure should be from the journey, but the journey's a thin ride too, so while I didn't hate it, I see no reason for anyone else to seek it out.