Over the weekend of its release, I was able to take a deeper look into and watch Peacock Entertainments latest movie, Praise This! Which stared Chole Bailey, rapper Quavo, Tristan Wilds, and comedian Druski. The movie takes place in Atlanta, Georgia, following a non-believer, Sam(Chole Bailey) as she is shipped off to her aunt and uncle in the south to have a better life. Defiant and angry at the world after her mom has passed, and wanting nothing but to become a famous singer, Sam has a difficult time adjusting to the Atlanta lifetstlye after leaving her hometown, Los Angeles, and is forced to join her family’s church choir after breaking a few house rules. Sam then is challenged with not only learning more about the Lord but learning to respect that a relationship with him comes in all forms.
Praise This! to me has touched on multiple aspects of my life. On one end I was raised in the church, down south as well in Houston, Texas. Even though I may have been too young to fully understand, I do see a difference as to how the Word is preached. Depending on the location and the different versions of Christianity are shown not only within my childhood but the movie as well. It was interesting to see that the director, Tina Gordon, had the main two churches depict different classes but both are teaching the same Word. One church was currently using a warehouse to home their congregation, while the other was what some of us call a “mega church.” Which means, a church with an unusually large congregation, typically one preaching a conservative or evangelical form of Christianity. But again, both were teaching the same Word. Personally, growing up in Houston I was apart of a mega church. We had praise dances every Sunday, the youth helping out in Sunday School, and lunches after. When we moved back to Seattle(at about 10 or 11) I was apart of a smaller church. We had two others near us and they would always hold events until the neighborhood changed during COVID. As of now the church is still there but I moved on to another one because of the way the youth within the church were hinted at during sermons, which Gordon touches on as well. How the different churches mentioned treat the members of the congregation.
I had the privilege to get in contact with some pastors of the Seattle and Renton community to get insight on their viewpoints, what they think about the movie, and how this movie could possibly help young adults find their way with the Lord or find a way to create that relationship. Some of them expressed that the movie focus on the main character, Sam, is a gifted individual who must experience loss of everything(self-confidence, opportunities, and relationships, personal and professional) in order to come a realization that they should use the gifts they were given to reunite with those who they may have alienated. Some thought that the movie overall could help the young adults understand that God is not scared of our past, frustration or mistakes. He listens and protects from all that has been done. It was clear however that everyone felt the movie was a hyper-sexualized depiction of worship, the gospel, and the spiritual life of young people. They did however understand the arc the director was shaping so that reconciliation and redemption can take place. Within the music aspect, most thought it was interesting, but others expressed that the creative use of up-tempo songs provided a platform to highlight the dancing prowess of the singers. Music often provides a bridge between Christians and non-Christians and a path for reconciliation.
Overall, I believe the movie touches a lot on not only the African American community but the church community and does a incredible job at showing that we have to remember at the end of the day we are all praising the same being. Or a version of the same being. Meaning that all forms should be treated with the same respect. No matter location, class, or amenities. We should be able to come anywhere and praise Him.
Praise This! Trailer