The campaign for Mr. Church focused on how star Eddie Murphy, in the title role, was returning to film after an absence of several years. That emphasis isn’t fully realized in the finished movie.
The story is focused on Henry Church, a man who’s hired to come in and cook clean for a woman who’s sick with cancer and her young daughter. Marie, the mom, only has an expected six months to live and he’s supposed to take care of things until she passes. Instead she hangs on for years, long enough for her daughter Charlotte (Britt Robertson in the later years) to grow up, all while Mr. Church stays around. Even after Charlotte goes away to college he continues to be a major force and steady presence in her increasingly tumultuous life.
While the finished movie doesn’t mark anything great or a notable in terms of his overall filmography it’s not bad. Murphy turns in a solid performance, as does Robertson. The story is a bit trite, the feature-length version of the “magical negro” story trope and only surmounts that stereotype at a few moments.
What was shocking was how much I found the movie was completely, almost solely, sold in the trailer. There are plenty of instances of a trailer giving away much of the story but this one really goes through the almost all the major beats to make the entire arc clear to the audience. That means there wasn’t all that much surprising about watching the movie but, more positively, it means the studio wasn’t trying to hide anything from the audience.
It’s not bad, it’s a competently made and emotional movie that has some good qualities. But it’s also not all that compelling, despite a campaign that adhered closely to the movie it was working to sell.