MURPHY ONLY SAVING GRACE
Film Review by Fiore
Mr. Church is a film much like Robert Lewis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; it begins as a good, albeit estrogen-filled film with solid story and characterizations and then midway, transforms into something hideous and monstrous. In the first 45 minutes, Mr. Church ranks with Eric Segal’s Love Story as a classic tear-jerker. Marie, played by Natascha McElhone, is dying of cancer. Her husband, who died years earlier, bequeathed her many creature comforts to assist her in her final months, and with the care of their daughter. One of the comforts is Mr. Henry Church, played by Eddie Murphy, who is to serve the family as cook, for the six months Marie has left.
Screenwriter Susan McMartin brings in the irritating, yet commonplace element of the undisciplined child in the guise of Charlie, played by Britt Robertson. Charlie is an obnoxious daughter. She rules the household with rudeness and temper tantrums. This persona is far too common in films. It reflects the disastrous child-rearing philosophy of Dr. Spock, and others, who purported a child should not be disciplined, but rather reasoned with; a concept not unlike attempting logic when debating a liberal. This single ideology has created at least two generations of self-indulgent, narcissistic people who are a strain on culture and the society’s moral fiber. The writing technique is supposed to evoke empathy through cuteness, but rather produces disdain.
Marie’s estimated six-month life span becomes six years instead, and all through this time, Mr. Church stays with Marie and Charlie, serving as their cook. The trio develop a unique bond and friendship that audiences will commiserate with, making Marie’s eventual demise exceptionally emotional.
But then, the film narrative continues for another 45 minutes, and in that time, all of the liberal agenda elements of the H3L are displayed with the subtlety of a sledgehammer.
Charlie, through the mentorship of Mr. Church, manages to graduate high school, go to the prom and enter Boston University. Here, she becomes a liberal’s dream; a woman with so much promise, who instead fills her time with one-night stands resulting in becoming an unwed mother. But this is all fine in the scripting of McMartin, who praises Charlie for her lifestyle and supports fervently the concept of having babies without a traditional family unit.
And with that introduction, the most prominent of bad ideas promoted by the H3L dominates the rest of the film. The traditional family unit, husband, wife and children, is the core of any stable society. Liberals, in an effort to destabilize Western culture in order to usher in a Socialist society, have gone to extraordinary means to belittle and destroy the family unit. Yet family, a feeling of togetherness and love, is essential for human happiness. So, Hollywood does its part by creating families out of dysfunctional members. An unwed mother, her bastard child and the cook do not comprise a family, yet McMartin is hell-bent on telling us it does, and furthermore, that this is a good standard for the family concept.
This theme of creating families were none exist is evident in almost every Hollywood film nowadays. Somewhere in cultural interaction, having any type of relationship with anyone anywhere constitutes a family in the eyes of Tinseltown. This can even be seen, in a ludicrous manner when a collection of criminals, band together and their leader, Vin Diesel, constantly harps they succeed because they are family, in the Fast and Furious franchise. Hollywood had to do something. They created a blitzkrieg to destroy and ridicule the concept of family, and then created the concept of finding family, not in traditional cultural mores, but in any collection of dysfunctional members. It makes the second half of Mr. Church almost unwatchable; to be force-fed this ludicrous ideology and then told, through the dialogue, that this is somehow miraculous and worthy of celebration.
KEY SCENES TO LOOK FOR:
1. Marie’s funeral
2. Mr. Church’s funeral
3. The lecture on books.
The only element in the entire film to merit its continued viewing is Eddie Murphy. Murphy is one of Hollywood’s top talents, and has been for decades. Unfortunately, he made the mistake of not kowtowing to studio executives who demand subservient homage. Like his contemporary Jim Carrey in The Truman Show, he was denied a well-deserved Oscar for Dreamgirls, and his career was sabotaged.
This is a role out of Murphy’s milieu; it is total drama with none of the comedic elements, normally his forte. He is like a professional athlete, playing with an amateur travel team, spewing lines of dialogue far below his talent level. Perhaps both Murphy and Carrey should become a ‘family’ with Mel Gibson. He is still the only actor to buck the Hollywood deities and still enjoy success.
Mr. Church is nearly two hours of celebrating all the elements that have, or are currently destroying our culture and society. Mr. Murphy is the only reason to wade through Mr. Church, and it is a shame such a tremendous talent as Mr. Murphy is reduced to an oeuvre like Mr. Church.
THE GRADE FOR MR. CHURCH = D.