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The bad-boy drug-trafficker; the devout girl of faith. The church, the club, the interrogation room. Throw in Stephen Baldwin as a detective and (not one but) two appearances from Christian rappers, and we at least have all the right ingredients for a promising movie.

But when you actually put it together and project it on the screen, the film gets in the way of the story it was trying to share.

I can't possibly begin to tackle here why it seems so hard to make a great Christian film. But one thing I've noticed consistently is that the message seems to get in its own way. If you try too hard to convey the message(s), you risk pummeling the relatable part of your art out of the production. The audience will hear a lot, but just not "feel it." And in this vein, Church Girl tries to pack too many messages (about conversion, about faith, about drugs, about romance, about tragedy, about church, and more) into a movie that just isn't wide enough to hold it all.

Former drug trafficker Miles Montego (the rapper Jeffrey "Ja Rule" Atkins) falls for "Church Girl" Vanessa (Adrienne Bailon, formerly of The Cheetah Girls). But he needs to navigate a faith culture foreign to him, while simultaneously trying to leave behind his hoodlum-y past.

By the time we meet her, it's clear that the church girl is in love with church. She works in a store for "faith-based products" (I spotted a lot of NOTW—Not Of This World—merch), and has a mom who won't shake Miles's hand until she knows what church he goes to. In every scene Vanessa references her church and her Bible study, and reminds her man, "don't forget to say your prayers."

So it's a ...

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