Film Review: I'm In Love With A Church Girl

Truly, what hath God wrought here?

We here at Film Journal International do not lie, so you had better believe that God Himself is credited as one of the executive producers of I'm in Love with a Church Girl. From the onscreen results, one can only surmise that He was either sleeping on the job or, even worse, is just one more fat cat throwing his money into a lame-brained project just to get some screen credit and the chance to schmooze at unwary film festivals.

Screenwriter Galley Molina based the film on his own experience, going from drug pusher to minister, but, for all that, this cliché-besotted film feels somehow synthetic in the extreme. Molina's alter ego here is Miles Montego (Ja Rule) whose conspicuous consumption and super-high living attract the attention of the law, although he is trying to go straight. Suddenly, an angel alights in his life, Vanessa (Adrienne Bailon), the titular "girl" for whom church is number one in her life. She even works at a "faith-based product" store, where Miles tracks her down and begins to pitch some serious woo. Will she forgive him his nefarious past? Will he really change his ways and make that commitment to the one church which she is so adamant about? Will she recover from a car accident-induced coma? Will Miles, after having a total breakdown, make it to her hospital bedside and, seeing the light at last, collapse beside her in a heap of humility and determination to walk in God's path?

The answers to all the above are obvious in director Steve Race's beyond-obvious film, a faith-based product dispiritingly worlds apart from a good effort in the field like Higher Ground. Led by a predictably gruff Ja Rule, who gives your perfunctory, predictable rap-star-turned-actor dramatic performance, all macho posturing and then wounded puppy "sensitivity," the cast sinks without a trace. They include Baillon, whose callow chirpiness does nothing to redeem an annoyingly pert character, and like some really bad joke, Stephen Baldwin and Michael Madsen, who must desperately need a paycheck, and resemble some unintentionally buffa Fric and Frac, as a pair of DEA agents bent on bringing down King Player Miles. (Typical lines: "Looks like it's bad guys three, good guys zero"; "When I slap the cuffs on this guy and he gets 25 to life and I'm all cozy in my bed, that's when he'll feel some jealousy!") And, really, what choice does “Sopranos” alum Vincent Pastore have but to just phone it in, as a (literally) fat cat buddy of Miles?