Tuesday, March 3, 2015

The Preacher's Wife (1996)

IMDb plot summary: Good natured Reverend Henry Biggs finds that his marriage to choir mistress Julia is flagging, due to his constant absence caring for the deprived neighborhood they live in. On top of all this, his church is coming under threat from property developer Joe Hamilton. In desperation, Rev. Biggs prays to God for help - and help arrives in the form of an angel named Dudley. However, Dudley's arrival seems to cause even more trouble...
Directed by Penny Marshall. Starring Denzel Washington, Whitney Houston, Courtney B. Vance and Gregory Hines.

This is a remake of an older movie called The Bishop's Wife that my mom watched a lot growing up, so I've always been mildly interested in seeing this one... but as I watched this, I remembered that, oh yeah, I didn't like The Bishop's Wife too much, and this one didn't really improve upon it.

There were some really good parts of this. Hearing Whitney Houston sing, even in contrived situations, is always a great experience. And I was really impressed with how realistic the situation was. This seemed like a genuinely run-down neighborhood, not glamorized or glorified, and watching the pastor work so hard to improve the lives of his congregation, you really felt how overwhelmed he was and how much it weighed on him that he couldn't fix everyone. So that aspect of the story was really interesting and powerful.

What doesn't work is... well, the angel plot, which is most of the movie. It's not clear that Dudley actually does *anything* to improve things, as the preacher comes to a revelation totally on his own (and for no apparent reason). His role here is unclear, and when he leaves, it's still unclear. The romance subplot is just kind of awkwardly left there (much as it was in the original) without much connection to the rest of the story.

I'd be interested in watching a story about the main characters just living and working where they are. They're interesting on their own, and the main plot pales in comparison.

2.5 stars.

How it entered my Flickchart:
The Preacher's Wife < Last Action Hero
The Preacher's Wife > Short Circuit
The Preacher's Wife > No Country for Old Men
The Preacher's Wife < Crank
The Preacher's Wife > Kiss Me Kate
The Preacher's Wife > My Six Loves
The Preacher's Wife > John Carter
The Preacher's Wife > Ocean's Twelve
The Preacher's Wife > Neverwas
The Preacher's Wife > Ice Station Zebra
Final spot: #1313 out of 2331.

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