By Eva D. Coleman
Lifestyle & Culture Editor
Fresh Prince meets Pitch Perfect in Praise This movie that cleverly blends gospel and hip hop. As The Oil Factory choir flows throughout singing competitions, circumstances of a host of characters show the residual effects of theft, yet proves “Thou shall not steal” one’s joy in the gift of serving others.
Sam, played by Grammy nominee Chloe Bailey of music duo Chlöe x Halle, is uprooted from Los Angeles by her father and dropped into a new, southern environment with her aunt and uncle, and doting cousin Jess. The move to Atlanta eventually shows promise to Sam’s aspiring music career through connecting with an artist she admires, and by adding some flavor to Jess’ struggling, competitive gospel choir group.
While the movie has some fun, yet predictable moments of love, jealousy and deceit, the juxtaposition of old time gospel hymns set to tracks that make you move something is reminiscent of when grumblings in “the church” occurred due to the infiltration of rap music. This discourse is reintroduced with Praise This, however the acceptance of the combo is still up in the air.
The gospel music competitions, complete with theatrics, are entertaining. The Oil Factory group grows as the weight of jealousy falls off. In the end they become victorious. It’s a tale of family, finding oneself and connectedness coming back around as Sam navigates her gift of singing while processing tremendous loss.
Praise This, produced by Will Packer, premieres on Peacock April 7, 2023.