Make no mistake: "I'm in Love With a Church Girl" is no wholesome romance with benign faith-based themes. It is wholesome — more so than it wants to be, what with its sterile attempt at portraying a gangsta lifestyle — but it's aggressively evangelistic, peddling a specific strain of Christianity espoused by writer-producer Galley Molina, on whose life the film is based.
Nearly every conversation in the film didactically centers on returning drug trafficker-turned-concert promoter Miles Montego (Jeffrey "Ja Rule" Atkins) to the church. The beautiful Vanessa (Adrienne Bailon) introduces him to a congregation that eschews the description "religious" for "person of faith" and a pastor (Molina) who drives a Lamborghini with no sense of irony.
A church where he doesn't have to give up style for God (who's credited as an executive producer, by the way) — or, for that matter, his eight-bedroom house, $300,000 Bentley and stacks of cash, all derived from a life of crime? Why wouldn't Miles go for that? What's even more offensive is he apparently doesn't even have to atone for his past sins.
Competently filmed by director Steve Race and cinematographer Keith J. Duggan, "I'm in Love With a Church Girl" otherwise suffers from the same ills as too many movies that preach to the choir: a laborious length, formulaic plot and dialogue and, disappointing for a film that stars a rapper, a stock score. Content aside, Molina's testimony isn't good cinema either.
"I'm in Love With a Church Girl." MPAA rating: PG for thematic elements, a scene of violence, some suggestive content and brief language. Running time: 1 hour, 58 minutes. In general release.