First Sunday David E. Talbert

First Sunday David E. Talbert

I had a feeling this would happen. It was only a matter of time before Tyler Perry’s black comedy playbook would get aped for the sake of a buck. And from the looks of it, it’s not like David E. Talbert is being discreet with his mimicry. He proudly wears the rote pairing of Ice Cube and another funny black guy on his sleeve, as if no one’s ever done this sort of thing before. Alas, Talbert’s First Sunday feels like a tiresome trip back to Next Friday, which ultimately keeps it from being original. This is not to say that the film isn’t funny. Firstly, the concept of two buffoonish brothers from the ’hood (Durrell and LeeJohn, played by Cube and Tracy Morgan, respectively) ripping off a Church is at best tummy tickling and at worst borderline stereotypical. Surprisingly, it’s Cube, as the supposed brains of the operation, who fails to impress with his most leaden attempt at acting to date. Morgan, with his Scooby Doo tone and geometrically warped facial expressions, manages to goad a few laughs, reminding us that SNL did him some good. The problem here is the hackneyed plot. The two crooks craft the plan to pilfer $17,000 from a local First Sunday Church after Durell learns that his son might be leaving the city. Apparently, his baby’s mama needs the cash, or else. You know how these things are. As night falls, the duo break in the place, only to discover that it’s already been robbed. The rest plays out like Clue meets Dead Presidents. Naturally, things snowball in ways meant to be hilarious, but you’ve seen these rowdy comic antics before in older Cube-produced comedies. Talbert gets away with sweetening some serious messages here about the pitfalls of ghetto life, playfully disguising issues like morality, faith and self-respect as heartfelt black jokes. It’s all easy to swallow because the audience was never meant to be challenged in the first place. Renting it wouldn’t hurt though. The idea of Tracy Morgan-filled bonus features sounds like better fare anyway. (Sony)