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Under the Radar DVD of the Week: 'I'm In Love With a Church Girl'

Dennis King Published: January 13, 2014
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This week, the oddest DVD to appear on release lists is:

“I’m In Love With a Church Girl”

Tyler Perry has a pretty solid lock on faith-based films that dip their toes in the comedy and pathos of real urban life, but now rapper and aspiring actor Jeff “Ja Rule” Atkins is taking a feeble shot at the genre with the belabored melodrama “I’m In Love With a Church Girl” (due out on DVD Tuesday).

It’s a movie whose pious intentions seem at war with its puffed-up hip-hop attitude.

Ja Rule struts his acting chops in a scowling, one-note performance as retired drug kingpin Miles Montego, a one-time womanizing “playa” who falls hard for “a church girl” named Vanessa (Adrienne Bailon of TV’s “The Cheetah Girl”).

As the alluring Vanessa tries to convince Miles that religion is better than drugs and sex, the hard-nosed DEA agents on the case (Stephen Baldwin and Michael Madsen) don’t believe that Miles is fully retired and they dog his every move. Meanwhile, a bling-encrusted pastor (played by Galley Molina, a real-life minister and the film’s writer) rolls up in a white Lamborghini to seal the deal on Miles’ religious conversion. “Last time I read the Bible I saw nothing about style being a sin,” the good pastor says.

While the story, which was reportedly based on Molina’s own life, makes a game effort at deglamorizing the drug life and proffering a hip brand of religious conversion, the film’s clunky mechanics and broad, unconvincing performances seem to undermine and positive intentions it intends. It’s largely heavy-handed proselytizing that feels more like a strained sermon than compelling drama.

“I’m In Love With a Church Girl” is rated PG and runs 118 minutes. It’s being released by Vivendi Entertainment.

- Dennis King