Now that we have a little bit of distance from movies like Norbit and Meet Dave, it’s probably time to start thinking about an Eddie Murphy renaissance. In his day, Murphy has been an award-winning comedian, a movie star and a serious dramatic lead; a few bad decisions over the last decade should not be enough to unravel his talent as a performer.

So on the one hand, hooray for Mr. Church, the upcoming release that sees Murphy play a role model and educator for the film’s heroine over the course of several decades. Movies that attempt to document the passage of time have always been a good bet for Academy recognition, and even if you want to roll your eyes at something like Nutty Professor II: The Klumps, it did show that Murphy has the necessary physicality to player a character at multiple points in their life. That would be the good news.

Here’s the bad news: this first trailer for Mr. Church raises a whole bunch of questions about the story they want to tell. On paper, the idea that someone like Mr. Church could continue to touch a single family over three separate generations is a heartwarming one. In practice, though, it’s hard to watch the trailer and not see a conversation about race and representation looming on the horizon. Eddie Murphy might indeed be a revelation in the role — as the pull quote from The Hollywood Reporter suggests — but if the film’s politics represent something of a step backwards for Hollywood at a time where they are under enormous scrutiny to get it right, Mr. Church may face an uphill fight just to be taken seriously.

Here is the official synopsis for Mr. Church:

Mr. Church tells the story of a unique friendship that develops when a little girl and her dying mother retain the services of a talented cook — Henry Joseph Church. What begins as a six month arrangement instead spans fifteen years, and creates a family bond that lasts forever.

Mr. Church also stars Britt Robertson (the incredibly charismatic star of Tomorrowlandin case you had forgotten) and Natascha McElhone. It will open in theaters on September 16, 2016.

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