Mr. Church Adds a Little too Much Seasoning

“I know how girls get pregnant Charlotte.”


Photo courtesy of IMDB

Solomon Kenworthy

     Mr. Church could be the one movie  where having another “cook” in the writer’s room might have helped. 

     Mr. Church was released in 2016, and was directed by Bruce Beresford. The film stars Britt Robertson and Eddie Murphy. Inspired by a real friendship, Charlotte must learn to cope with change when her family gets a cook  that will seeming only last six months. She finally gets used to the new arrangement in the house about six years later. 

     Eddie Murphy’s performance as the title character is among his best ever. We learn so much about his character without him saying much, but just by watching his actions.  At the beginning, his character is very flat, boring, with not much substance given. Over the course of the film we learn little bits and pieces that make it very clear why he likes his privacy. It’s a very different performance from Murphy’s usual load rambunctious comedic roles.

     Britt Robertson is a joy to watch on screen as Charlotte. One major aspect I can praise her on is her ability to commit real emotion and make the scenes in which she’s crying actually look real. 

     Early in the film, scenes take place when Charlotte is around ten years old, and the actress that played her was not fantastic. It felt raw and unnatural to see a little girl swear in certain instances, specifically when we see her talking with her friend at school. 

     Throughout the course of the film, Robertson’s character is giving V.O. (voice over) and, as it is cliché, it works here. We find out why at the end of the film, and the reason is satisfying, giving what is normally an excuse for lazy exposition purpose and meaning. 

      The script does a good job at having the viewer at the edge of their seat, wondering and guessing where the story will go next. For example, you think that the film will end when Charlotte goes off to college, but that’s only 54 minutes into the 1hr 45min long film. Although the pacing is extremely slow, this works further to the film’s advantage if you know that going in.  

     There are moments in the script where the characters’ choices don’t make much sense. For example, Mr. Church goes out every night, but as soon as he discovers Charlotte knows this, he just stops for seemingly no reason. This example would have worked if the film had had literally one line of exposition from Church, but instead we’re just told he stopped. 

     The reuse of dialogue works sometimes, for example there are 2 funeral scenes and the same V.O. is used both times to show how different people react to each individual death. In other instances it seems like dialogue was used again because the writer was lazy. Never enough to take you out of the film, but prevalent enough that it was important enough to bring up. 

     Mr. Church will definitely pull on your heart-strings, and have you re-define the word “family.” Unfortunately, the script’s problems and some poor acting bring the film down from excelling at the perfect blend of ingredients. 


[My grade for Mr. Church is a B]