Charlotte "Charlie" Brooks (Britt Robinson) lives with her single mother Marie Brooks (Natascha McElhone) in a small beat-up apartment. She is awakened by cooking that smells like heaven, to find a stranger named Mr. Henry Joseph Church (Eddie Murphy). Charlie does not like this mysterious man in her house. Marie agrees with Charlie to get rid of him until she finds out he was hired by Marie's deceased ex-lover to take care of her for six months because she has breast cancer and only has six months to live.
Six years later, Marie is still living and Mr. Church has become a fixture in the household. Charlie (now Britt Robertson) is a senior in high school and now aware of her mother's cancer. Charlie grows distant from her mother and closer to Mr. Church because of her inability to come to terms with Marie's impending death. Marie lives long enough to see Charlie go to prom with her dream guy Owen (Xavier Samuel), but dies soon after.
Mr. Church stays with Charlie after Marie dies. Charlie gets accepted to Boston University but cannot afford to attend. Mr. Church gives her an envelope containing five thousand dollars for tuition–the money he saved from coupons Marie gave him. Charlie runs into Owen sometime later and he tells her he is going away to college.
Two years later a pregnant Charlie shows up on Mr. Church's doorstep, eventually asking to live with him. He accepts as long as she keeps out of his business. Charlie notices how Mr. Church comes home drunk and has matches from a place called Jelly's. A drunk Mr. Church finds her snooping, they argue and he tries to throw her out for breaking his rules. She leaves and runs into her old friend Larson (Christian Madsen) at a store parking lot. A kid on a skate board hits Charlie and knocks her down knocking her unconscious. Larson, who is banned from operating a vehicle due to a previous accident, nevertheless drives her to the hospital just in time. Mr. Church comes to the hospital and takes Charlie back with him. Charlie gives birth to a baby girl named Izzy (Mckenna Grace), and she and Izzy live with Mr. Church. Charlie gets a job as a waitress.
Five years later, Mr. Church becomes sick. Charlie takes him to the doctor, but Mr. Church dies of an enlarged heart. Charlie finds Owen again and they get back together. Charlie meets the owner of Jelly's and finds out that Mr. Church played the piano there. The film ends with Charlie writing the story of her life with Mr. Church.
Opening titles include the phrase: "Inspired by a true friendship." In 2011, the screenwriter, Susan McMartin, posted "The Cook Who Came to Live With Us," which appears to be the story on which the screenplay is based.
In October 2013, it was revealed that David Anspaugh would direct the film from a screenplay by Susan McMartin, with Lee Nelson, David Buelow and David Tish producing under their Envision Media Arts arts banner, while Brad Kaplan will produce under Evolution Entertainment. In April 2014, it was revealed that Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman and Juno Temple had been cast in the film. In October 2014, Eddie Murphy joined the cast of the film, replacing Samuel L. Jackson, who had to drop out due to a scheduling conflict, with Bruce Beresford directing the film. Mark Canton and Courtney Solomon joined the project as producers under their Cinelou Films banner. In November 2014, Britt Robertson joined the cast of the film. Its working title was Cook but was retitled to Henry Joseph Church, the full name of Murphy's character, before being retitled to Mr. Church.
Principal photography began on November 24, 2014, in Los Angeles, California. Production concluded on January 12, 2015.
With a production budget of $8 million, it is the least expensive film of Murphy's career.
In December 2014, the first image of Murphy and Robertson was released. The film had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival on April 22, 2016. Warner Bros. Pictures will distribute the film internationally, part of Cinelou Films' six-film deal with the company. It will be distributed domestically by Cinelou Releasing. The film was released in the United States on September 16, 2016.
Mr. Church received negative reviews from critics, though Eddie Murphy's performance was praised. On the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 15%, based on 26 reviews, with an average rating of 4.3/10. On Metacritic, the film holds a score of 37 out of 100, based on 12 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".
In his negative review for Forbes, Luke Thompson praised Murphy's performance but wrote, "It’s certainly possible the real-life Mr. Church was exactly as depicted, and loved his white 'family' more than anything else. Yet something tells me it would be more interesting to hear him narrate his own story, rather than have it expressed through the eyes of the privileged girl he served, whose life challenges were so easily solved all the time."
It is important to note that critics are often wrong and out of touch. It is also important to realize that the statistics used for this review (26 reviews for Rotten Tomatoes and 12 for Metacritic) make the data useless, much as Wikipedia is for collegiate research.