Today’s Prayer Focus
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Mr. Church

also known as “Henry Joseph Church”
MPA Rating: PG-13-Rating (MPA) for thematic elements.

Reviewed by: John Walker

Moral Rating: Average—with caution
Moviemaking Quality:
Primary Audience: Adults Teens
Genre: Drama
Length: 1 hr. 44 min.
Year of Release: 2016
USA Release: September 16, 2016 (wide—300+ theaters)
DVD: October 25, 2016
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Relevant Issues

kindness / love


importance of loyal friendships

be grateful for your friends and friendships

good works


importance of family

difficulties of getting older



fornication in the Bible

SEXUAL LUST—What does the Bible say about it? Answer

PURITY—Should I save sex for marriage? Answer

TEMPTATIONS—How can I deal with temptations? Answer

Where did CANCER come from? Answer

How did bad things come about? Answer

Why does God allow innocent people to suffer? Answer

What about the issue of suffering? Doesn’t this prove that there is no God and that we are on our own? Answer

Does God feel our pain? Answer

What kind of world would you create? Answer

About hope

Click here to watch THE HOPE on-line!
Discover God’s promise for all people—told beautifully and clearly from the beginning. Discover The HOPE! Watch it on Christian Answers—full-length motion picture.
Featuring Britt Robertson … Charlotte
Eddie MurphyHenry Joseph Church
Natascha McElhone … Marie
Lucy Fry … Poppy
Xavier Samuel … Owen
Madison Wolfe … Young Poppy
Mckenna Grace … Izzy
See all »
Director Bruce Beresford — “Driving Miss Daisy” (1989), “Double Jeopardy” (1999), “Breaker Morant” (1980)
Producer Cinelou Films
Envision Media Arts
See all »
Distributor Cinelou Releasing

“He was the one person she could always count on.”

This story begins the day Henry Joseph Church (Eddie Murphy) drops into the life of Marie Brody (Natascha McElhone) and her daughter Charlotte (Britt Robertson). In vague detail, we learn that Marie has had an affair with a married man, who, after his death, bequeaths his ex-lover the services of one Henry Church as cook for approximately six months, the time Marie has left, as she is dying of breast cancer. As payment for his time of service, Mr. Church will receive a lifelong pension.

Where did CANCER come from? Answer

How did bad things come about? Answer

Through the eyes and narration of Charlotte, we find her immediate dislike of this intruder into her and her mother’s life is eventually worn down by the manner and cuisine of Mr. Church. As Marie’s battle with cancer extends beyond the time allotted to her by the doctors, “Charlie” (Britt Robertson) comes to appreciate and become enchanted with this pseudo father figure in her life. Charlie’s life continues through high school until the time when her mother finally dies from her disease. Mr. Church is everything they needed, from breakfast through dinner, but we find out that after hours, that time is his which he holds dearly and in private. He continues serving daily, until the time Charlie leaves for college and continues their friendship with her through letters.

The story takes a new direction when one day Charlie shows up at his home pregnant, with nowhere to go. He takes her in, and this is where his mysterious life somewhat comes to the surface. Mr. Church repeatedly comes home drunk late, and, through his alcohol induced ranting, we find unresolved conflicts with his father voiced. Charlie presses to find out more about this mysterious man and almost ruins their friendship through her snooping.

PURITY—Should I save sex for marriage? Answer

fornication in the Bible

When Charlie ends up in a hospital, Mr. Church comes to visit, and, after reconciling and pledging to take care of her, they begin a new life. Charlie soon gives birth to her daughter Isabel “Izzy,” and the three of them form a family together. Their lives form a unique bond, and we slowly begin to see the roles reverse, as Mr. Church ages and Charlie ends up caring for him more and more. The story finishes out ***SPOILER*** as Mr. Church dies in bed from his illness with Charlie asleep nearby having read a book to him which he had done so many times previous throughout her life. In the end, there are parts of his life still left a mystery, but their love and appreciation for each other is voiced to the final scene. ***END SPOILER***

Morally, the movie has some things of which you need to be aware. There are brief moments of strong language. Some is spoken by the young characters of Charlie and her friend Poppy, some strong drunken rantings by Mr. Church, and a few more by Charlie when she is an adult. Marie and her daughter Charlotte both have children out of wedlock, although this is always alluded to, nothing is ever shown. Charlie’s mother is shown being given a bath by her, as she is in the final stages of cancer, although all we see is her bare back. Mr. Church smokes cigarettes throughout the whole movie and is shown being repeatedly intoxicated, after he comes home from his evenings at the “Jelly’s Café.” Mr. Church’s father was a pastor and abused him as a youth, although this is only spoken of, and we never see any of this.

Spiritually, the movie is interesting, but conflicted, from a Christian point of view. We see life is short, and we should not waste it on things that do not matter. We see kindness is its own reward, and sharing the best part of ourselves helps others become better. We see scenes where, through the providence of Charlie’s misfortune, another’s life is saved. We are taught that life is more than money, and family is more important than the secrets or sins that separate them. Forgiveness can be freely given and received. Lastly, there is an interesting story that Mr. Church tells Izzy on a garden swing that alludes to things in the afterlife, but nothing direct. Please do not get me wrong, they do not attribute any of these things to God in the movie, but we know better. God is the author of all good things, and we can take heart that we have the opportunity to share this.

I enjoyed the movie very much. It had a subdued but well-paced feel that I really enjoyed. I saw the trailer and was very interested to see the movie before it came out. I had read some early review ratings, but decided to wait until I saw the movie before I read them. I see that critics plowed the movie, and it seemed to me most of the criticism was based on what the critics were expecting and not what they saw. I also saw most audiences rated it highly, and so do I.

This Renaissance man is refreshing in light of today’s society of beat your chest selfish individuals. The characters’ growing respect for each other is enjoyable. The main characters are engaging, and I found myself interested in their lives. I give it an average on the moral rating and applaud the director for not taking it to a degree of offensiveness that might be expected in today’s movies. I would definitely say this is a movie for teens and adults only; the PG-13 rating is deserved. I am a sucker for this kind of movie, and, before I saw it, I hoped it would live up to the trailer. The film met my expectations and achieved what it set out to do. It tells the story of individuals who, through incidents in their lives, are brought together in the most unlikely of friendships. Hopefully, when we leave this Earth, we will leave the best part of ourselves behind.

mercy and lovein the Bible

goodness and righteousness

Violence: Minor / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Minor

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Positive—I gave this an Average, because while there is cursing, and there are children out of wedlock; this film is far less offensive than what is out there. There is no nudity. The mother is given a bath during her illness, but nothing is shown; it is tastefully done—we see a little of her bare back as she stands up out of the tub. There is drunken cursing, which, while any cursing is offensive, it does reveal the hurt inside and is in its own right, painful, because it shows the uninhibited feelings of a man still hurting.

This film was so compassionate, so loving. Even the relationship between Charlotte and Poppy is beautiful. We find that as they go their own ways, Poppy still loves and values Charlotte. I was tearing up within the first 20 minutes. I’d compose myself, tear up again, and so it went throughout this touching film. Eddie Murphy was wonderful. There was redemption for some characters, and love and family were the theme.

I highly recommend it. Beautiful film! Why it came and went so quickly in theaters, I don’t know. There were no trailers on television. This was a great film that was swept under the rug for blockbuster cookie cutter films. A shame this film was not marketed better. For a PG-13 film, far far less offensive than many others. There are teen films that are PG-13 I’d rather my kids not watch while this one, in spite of the language, is one that my 12 year old truly enjoyed (with her quickly pointing out that pregnancy while not married is not right). A true gem.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
Andrea, age 44 (USA)
Positive—Just watched it. Wow! It’s beautiful. Too beautiful. Eddie Murphy at his best and matured peak. He killed that character and gave it soul. Briit Robertson, she was also beautiful in fact everybody came to the party!!!… Good acting! Great story line. You must also give credit to the director Bruce Beresford and his foresight of directorship…
My Ratings: Moral rating: Excellent! / Moviemaking quality: 5
Phiwe T., age 29 (South Africa)

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