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The Independent Critic

Chloe Bailey, Druski, Anjelika Washington
Tina Gordon
Brandon Broussard, Tina Gordon, Hudson Obayuwana
110 Mins.

 Movie Review: Praise This 
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Lost somewhere between Sister Act 2 and a gospel version of Bring It On, Tina Gordon's Peacock Original film Praise This is set smack dab in the middle of the world of competitive praise teams, and yes there is such a thing, but an abundance of spirit can't overcome the fact that this faithfully formulaic flick shoots low and still manages to miss its target. 

The film stars singer/composer Chloe Bailey as Sam, transplanted by her widowed father from L.A. to Atlanta in hopes of keeping her on the straight and narrow. I guess you could say there's a little Fresh Prince of Bel-Air here, too. Welcomed into the home of her father's brother, a psychologist and person of faith, she's immediately embraced by her cousin Jess (Anjelika Washington). Chloe has dreams of being a singer, a dream that got her in trouble back home, and Jess just so happens to be part of an underdog praise choir seemingly with more faith than talent. Destined to always be "has beens" against the rival Champions megachurch's praise team, the choir is further held back by the limited stylings of Melissa (Birgundi Baker), the daughter of a key sponsor  whose musical talent leans toward the decidedly sedate. Pastor (Tristan Mack Wilds) and his First Lady (Crystal Renee Hayslett) won't give up and a chance encounter with Ty (Quavo), a local rapper and producer, helps to set a new course. 

While praise competitions are a real thing, Praise This ups the style and forsakes the substance a bit too much. There's no denying Bailey's a tremendously talented singer and every moment she's singing is worth watching. As her nerdy yet still talented cousin, Anjelika Washington also redeems herself quite nicely here. Drew "Druski" Desbordes has a few moments to truly shine and is charismatic enough to take advantage of his screen time. Others? Not quite as much. The appearance of a couple of hecklers who regularly attend the competitions wears thin quickly - truthfully, they weren't particularly effective the first time. 

Tina Gordon, also known as Tina Gordon Chism, has written the likes of ATL, Peeples, and Drumline. So, it's hard not to be a little disappointed here with a story that never really ignites and hits all the familiar notes. Praise This isn't a bad film. I was just expecting a whole lot better. 

I'd likely call Praise This more of a faith-inspired film than an actual faith-based one. Through a critical lens, I can't deny that I was more than a little disappointed but for those seeking a feel-good, faith-inspired motion picture with an abundance of energized praise music Praise This offers enough to make it worth a view. Praise This is currently screening on Peacock. 

Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic