“Henry Joseph Church could have been anything he wanted to be. He chose to cook.”
There is no easy way to do justice for one of Eddie Murphy’s most emotional and heartfelt titular role as the talented, well-read cook, Mr. Church.
In 1965, 10 year old Charlotte ‘Charlie’ Brody’s life is disrupted by the unknown cook referred to simply as Mr. Church (Murphy), assigned by the wealthy former lover of her cancer-ridden mother to look after the both of them for six months. Mr. Church’s time soon extends into six years, with her mother, Marie Brody, still holding on; Charlie develops a relationship with the cook who stands in as a father figure for the young girl. Throughout the movie we are shown Charlie’s initial dislike for “a black man cooking in her kitchen” (10 year old Charlie humorously had no qualms about expressing the odd change in her life) growing into appreciation for his ability to whip up anything at her command, his unexpected talent in the arts, and his intellect and wisdom acquired from popular novels passed down onto Charlie as she grows. Regardless of his attempts to separate his personal life from his work life Mr. Church soon learns the connections he develops with them is what makes a family.
Their growing connection evokes the perfect amount of emotion to visualize all the ups and downs of life’s journey. Despite it being Murphy’s first film in more than 2 years, he perfectly portrayed a caring, smart man, his palpable chemistry with Britt Robertson who portrays Charlie, felt deeply. The motion picture, based on a true story, had been waiting more than 3 years to be developed, by its creator Susan McMartin, who wrote this to immortalize the man that had heavily and positively influenced her life growing up.
“Dear Charlotte, You said you just want to know me. My dear, you always have. I am simply a man, not without faults. That can happen when you’re not the son your father hoped you’d be, despite his verbal abuse and beatings. I know you think I took care of you and your mother, and Izzy and you gave me nothing in return. You gave me the most important thing life can offer. You gave me a family. And love. –Henry”
I happily stumbled upon this movie, with no specific expectations, only to be left with tears and a heart-warming revelation and growing understanding of love, hope, and happiness within a family.