Release Date: October 18, 2013
Genre: Faith, Drama, Romance
Run Time: 110 minutes
Director: Steve Race
Cast: Ja Rule, Adrienne Bailon, Stephen Baldwin, Michael Madsen, Vincent Pastore, Toby Mac, Martin Kove, T-Bone
Christian movies are a hard genre to review. In terms of aesthetics, they're rarely up to par with other modern films, and while a secular viewer is free to write them off as "preachy" or "boring," Christian critics (like myself) are hard pressed to say something positive in our feedback. The end result is a project by Christians, for Christians, largely ignored by everybody else. I’m in Love with a Church Girl, the new film from Reverence Gospel Media, tries to break this cycle by changing the face of Christian cinema. Though the movie still suffers from a few trademark flaws that mar faith-based films, it succeeds in telling a story that will resonate with Christian and secular audiences alike.
For years, Miles Montego (Ja Rule) ruled the streets as a high-level drug trafficker. Smart, rich, and good looking, his criminal lifestyle bought him everything he could dream of. Now retired, Miles can’t quite shake his criminal past or his former colleagues, and the DEA has begun to circle him ominously. Then one day Miles meets Vanessa (Adrienne Bailon) and the two are instantly drawn to each other. Vanessa is like no girl Miles has ever met, she’s a church girl in every sense of the word.
The closer Miles gets to Vanessa, the more he feels pulled between the life he led and the life Christ is calling him to live. Together, the two walk an uncertain path that inevitably leads to a confrontation between Miles and the God who will not let him go. Based on true events, I’m in Love with a Church Girl is the story of one man's journey to redemption, and the woman whose love helped show him the way. The first thing viewers will notice about Church Girl is its style. Miles's wealth allowed him a certain level of extravagance, and the movie keen on showing it off.
Sports cars, fine clothes, and expensive mansions are a staple of every scene, allowing the movie to put its best foot forward. But the scenery is just the beginning; while many Christian movies tend to feature amateur acting, Church Girl delivers powerful performances from all major characters. The chemistry between Miles and Vanessa is rather remarkable, which is good since the film should be considered more of a romance than a drama. The relationship is what drives the story, and unlike most movies where couples fall in love instantly, this one takes its time for the romance to develop.
There are a few downsides to the movie, though. At times the story can grow tedious, even boring, due to its slow pace. Scenes featuring the FBI feel contrived, and never deliver much payoff. Also, while Ja Rule and Bailon may light up every scene they’re in, the rest of the cast is mostly two-dimensional and won’t make any impression on the audience. This is a story of two people falling in love, which means everything else is just distraction.
As for the Christian message, viewers will be happy to know it is delivered with authenticity and respect. Miles's journey toward Christ is not instantaneous, and his inevitable confession will strike a chord with anyone who's struggled with faith. In the end, I’m in Love with a Church Girl is a step in the right direction for Christian filmmaking. Not only will it appeal to a Christian audience, but it extends its hand to those still waiting to take that step of faith.
- Drugs/Alcohol: Miles was a drug trafficker but no drugs are ever shown, social drinking at parties, a group of men do shots.
- Language/Profanity: A few S-words, and D-words, the Lord’s name in vain.
- Sexual Content: Women wear revealing clothing, Vanessa and Miles kiss, Miles tries to convince Vanessa to sleep with him by reading Song of Solomon, Miles almost cheats on Vanessa with another woman, characters admit to sexual encounters, dancing at a club.
- Violence: A fight breaks out between two men, Miles threatens two people with a gun, a rough bouncer, and scenes in prison.
- Religion Morals: There is a heavy Christian presence in the movie, Vanessa and her family are all Christian, Miles's parents are Christian, much praying and singing hymns, scenes at church.
Publication date: October 18, 2013