Tina Gordon's "Praise This": An inspirational "Pitch Perfect" set in the Southern Black Church

A Black teenager gets ready to perform at the bowling alley
Chloe Bailey as SAM in PRAISE THIS

My review of Praise This, a feel-good comedy musical hybrid film, directed by Tina Gordon (What Men Want and Drumline). The screenplay was written by the collective known as Murder Ink (Brandon Broussard, Hudson Obayuwana, Jana Savage), with assistance by Tina Gordon. Praise This stars Chloe Bailey, Philip Fornah, Anjelika Washington, Druski, Quavo, Tristan Mack Wilds, Birgundi Baker, Loren Lott, Jekalyn Carr, and Koryn Hawthorne.

Sam has big dreams of being a musical superstar. When Sam's father thinks she is heading down a bad path and mixing with the wrong people, he moves her from Los Angeles to Atlanta to live with her uncle in a very church-centric household. At first, Sam thinks she will continue with the same shenanigans in Atlanta, but after getting caught sneaking out, Sam is forced to join the church's praise team, who have their own dreams of taking in the gold in the youth gospel choir competition scene.

Praise This is currently screening on Peacock.

Final score: 3 out of 5

A group of 6 Black teens sing together
[L-R]: Druski as AARON, Chloe Bailey as SAM, Anjelika Washington as JESS, Kiara Iman as JACKIE, Jekalyn Carr as KiKi, and Ilario Grant as JERMAINE in PRAISE THIS

Transcription of video/audio review (please excuse typos)

[Lindsey Dunn] 23:22:43
Hello, everyone! I'm here for one of my stories. This is Lindsey Dunn.

[Lindsey Dunn] 23:22:49
And today I wanted to get on and do a quick review of a movie that has just come out on Peacock called, Praise this, and it is directed by Tina Gordon, who is directed movies such as What Men Want and Drumline 

[Lindsey Dunn] 23:23:22
So in this movie we have a character named Sam, who has big dreams of becoming a musical superstar.

[Lindsey Dunn] 23:23:32
When Sam's father thinks she's heading down a bad path and mixing with the wrong people, he moves her from Los Angeles to Atlanta to live with her uncle in a very church centric household.

[Lindsey Dunn] 23:23:46
At first Sam thinks she will just continue with the same shenanigans. and she'll just do that in Atlanta, too.

[Lindsey Dunn] 23:24:17
But after getting caught sneaking out, Sam is forced to join the Church's praise team.

[Lindsey Dunn] 23:24:24
Who have their own dreams of taking the gold in the youth Gospel choir competition scene. 

[Lindsey Dunn] 23:24:28
So this movie is a spin on movies and shows like Pitch Perfect and Glee only it's set in a very specific culture that culture being the Southern black church, and it touches on many tropes that I love so we have fish out of water.

[Lindsey Dunn] 23:24:56
Chloe Bailey is Sam coming in, and she's not into church at all, and she's here and trying to figure that all out.

[Lindsey Dunn] 23:25:06
We have the underdog story, that being this group who has last year did something embarrassing And so now they're sort of the bane of the culture and people make fun of them when they show up,

[Lindsey Dunn] 23:25:13
 and we also have bad news bears, or misfits united all the members of the Gospel team.

[Lindsey Dunn] 23:25:31
but they are all sort of a group of misfits that don't belong anywhere that come together and find a place of belonging there with their friends being able to do this praise and worship team 

[Lindsey Dunn] 23:25:51
so we're taking this formula that works and setting it into a very specific culture to target and freshen that content for a different audience, maybe has been used before.

[Lindsey Dunn] 23:26:07
So that's not to say only certain audiences will enjoy this movie.

[Lindsey Dunn] 23:26:13
But it offers a different level of engagement and enjoyment for those who recognized the culture represented, and when I say culture, I mean Black Christian culture.

[Lindsey Dunn] 23:26:30
But even if you're not, even if you're in the Christian culture, not black Christian culture, you'll still appreciate a lot of the humor which transcends race.

[Lindsey Dunn] 23:26:53
Pitch Perfect is a movie that is widely, widely loved by many people.

[Lindsey Dunn] 23:27:04
But it doesn't necessarily target spiritual themes at all, or faith themes.

[Lindsey Dunn] 23:27:09
So this just has that formula, but adding in some different elements that make it a little bit different and special, and something that different people can relate, to which I really liked.

[Lindsey Dunn] 23:27:24
And it does have great musical performances, not just the competition shows, but there are some sessions where Sam and a local, a local hip hop artist do studio sessions, and there's even a bowling alley Scene that involves improvisation. So there's different styles of singing used and all of them are really enjoyable. 

[Lindsey Dunn] 23:27:48
So if you enjoy music, dance movies, or even competition movies, the director, Tina Gordon, as I said, she did the movie Drumline, which I remember watching and really liking that so it's again like Drumline and Bring it On. 

[Lindsey Dunn] 23:28:39
So if you like, those kinds of competition shows where you've got different people competing for this trophy, this is definitely hitting a sweet spot for you.

[Lindsey Dunn] 23:28:48
But if you're in the Christian and culture or subculture again, there's something extra there, and there's deeper themes. if you want. One thing I really appreciate is even though this is a fluffy, feel-good story,

[Lindsey Dunn] 23:29:02
It does also tug at your heart strings a little bit.

[Lindsey Dunn] 23:29:06
As I said before, Sam, she isn't looking for Jesus, or God, or a church community, but she is very much sort of looking for her place and looking for her people, and there's this theme that keeps coming up of praise music hitting you different.

[Lindsey Dunn] 23:29:27
And so the you know she loves to sing any kind of music right?

[Lindsey Dunn] 23:29:30
But when she joins in with the worship, music, or the praise, music touches these emotions in her, and that brings that out in the scene, and in really touching ways.

[Lindsey Dunn] 23:29:45
And so, even though that's not something she's looking for, it's just something that naturally happens when you're singing songs about gratitude, because that's a lot of what worship music and praise music is is feeling of gratitude or feeling like somebody's been there for you all along

[Lindsey Dunn] 23:30:00
That theme touches Sam deeply, just like it does some of the other kids because she is looking for that. 

[Lindsey Dunn] 23:30:07
We find out at the beginning that her mom has passed away.

[Lindsey Dunn] 23:30:14
And her mom was deeply religious. But she's dealing with that loss it's not immediate loss, but she's still a girl now, without a mother, and she and her father having problems.

[Lindsey Dunn] 23:30:29
So just this scene of like kind of being out on your own and feeling like you're drifting and finding a place to belong.

[Lindsey Dunn] 23:30:37
And that's beautifully brought out by not hit too hard, you know.

[Lindsey Dunn] 23:30:41
This is overall. It's a funny, fluffy feel, good movie.

[Lindsey Dunn] 23:30:46
So it doesn't ever get too serious or deep with it.

[Lindsey Dunn] 23:30:49
But those themes are there. If you want something positive and uplifting, and I can see a lot of youth groups wanting to take their kids to watch this movie or having them watch it.

[Lindsey Dunn] 23:31:08
The bottom line is, Sam isn't looking for anything to do with God, but she ends up finding her people unexpectedly, and this is not a conversion story, but it's a story about mutual respect and admiration of what is found within the walls of the church and within the people of a church community. 

[Lindsey Dunn] 23:31:29
Well, also unearthing some unpleasant things about that culture that the movie kind of calls out and makes it clear that we're not on board with this.

[Lindsey Dunn] 23:32:10
Overall. Think this is a very positive fun movie that people will enjoy, especially teenagers and 

[Lindsey Dunn] 23:32:31
Parents who want to be able to show something or watch something with their kids.

[Lindsey Dunn] 23:32:36
That's overall pretty wholesome, I mean. There's a couple of references to different shenanigans happening.

[Lindsey Dunn] 23:32:45
But mostly this is a show about lifting each other up, lifting people up, being in encouragement.

[Lindsey Dunn] 23:32:54
And it's a positive portrayal of a Christian community which doesn't always happen either.

[Lindsey Dunn] 23:33:01
So I think overall it's a good movie. It's a very fluffy movie.

[Lindsey Dunn] 23:33:06
But yeah, if you like, those shows like Pitch Perfect but you wish there was a little bit more of a a wholesome lesson.

[Lindsey Dunn] 23:33:16
This is a perfect movie for you. So I enjoyed myself watching it and definitely highly recommend it.

[Lindsey Dunn] 23:33:23
And that's all for one of my stories. Goodbye.