Movie Review: The Sacred and the Secular come together in "I'm In Love With a Church Girl"

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    I'm in Love With A Church Girl
    In Theaters October 18, 2013
    Faith, family, tragedy and transformation: it's a tall order for a new entertainment company to fill, but the debut feature film from Reverence Gospel Media,I'm In Love With A Church Girl,makes a worthwhile effort with sincerity, star power and credible chemistry between its leading lady and gentleman, Adrienne Bailon and Jeff "Ja Rule" Atkins.
    As the protagonist of ...Church Girl, Ja Rule portrays Miles Montego, a former CA-area drug kingpin who's converted his skills into concert promoting. Montego isn't 'bout that life' anymore, but since he's still employing his posse of drug-dealing around-the-way rolldawgs, the Feds are looking for any excuse to turn them in and keep everyone under constant surveillance ("He wears what we make in entire year on his wrist," one detective snarls to his superior, Martin 'sweep the leg' Kove). Despite his celebrity-level street cred, the loyal crew, immaculately-kept Bentley and a palatial crib, Miles' life seems hermitic and unfulfilled.
    What changes his destiny, however, is an invitation from his broker(The Sopranos'Vincent Pastore) to a Fourth of July family BBQ, where he meets the angelic Vanessa Leon (Bailon). Like the aforementioned holiday, sparks fly and their evolving relationship forces each of them into uncharted territory: celibacy, church attendance and Bible study for Miles, VIP hangouts and pistol-whipping turf wars for Vanessa.
    A 'one step forward, two steps back' dynamic seems to unfold, due to circustances that bind them together while temptations, tests and tragedies threaten to tear them apart. Will Miles stand strong to remain a man of faith for his loving Vanessa, or does he backslide into 'kingpin' mode and give the indictment-wielding Feds (Stephen Baldwin) what they're salivating for?
    ...Church Girl,like any other film, has pros and cons: Steve Race's directing pace is so leisurely that it mimicks a made-for-TV format, and the movie's length runs about half an hour too long. The screenplay, written by Galley Molina and based on his own true story, is also rife with carictures and leaves gaping holes that will puzzle the audience, such as a relative's out-of-nowhere fatal illness and why Miles' parents never quite address their son's wealth and occupation.
    There's a lot to like in I'm In Love With a Church Girl -- unless you'reexpecting foul language, gratuitious violence or a body count. The uplifting music (Israel Haughton, T-Bone), emotionally authentic lead actors' performances and the overall lesson of seeking and serving God make the film a rewarding and family-friendly experience.Recommended.
    By Melody Charles
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