The Preacher's Wife (1996) starring Denzel Washington, Whitney Houston, Courtney B. Vance, Gregory Hines, Jenifer Lewis, Loretta Devine, Justin Pierre Edmund, Lionel Richie directed by Penny Marshall Movie Review

The Preacher's Wife (1996)   3/53/53/53/53/5

Whitney Houston and Denzel Washington in The Preacher's Wife (1996)

Washington Goes to Houston

Almost 50 years after Henry koster gave us "The Bishop's Wife" we got an update on the story with "The Preacher's Wife", not an exact remake but a movie which use some of the same ideas. And in truth "The Preacher's Wife" is not that bad, it may lack the charm and magic of the original but it manages to deliver an uplifting message with entertaining performances from Denzel Washington, Whitney Houston and Courtney B. Vance.

Reverend Henry Biggs (Courtney B. Vance - Dangerous Minds) is a good man, maybe a little too good because whilst he struggles to keep his church running and out of the hands of a land developer he fails to dedicate enough time to his wife Julia (Whitney Houston). With the stresses of his job becoming too much as he doubt his own ability he asks God for help and all of a sudden Dudley (Denzel Washington - Courage Under Fire) appears, an angel sent from above to help him. But whilst Dudley manages to help the Reverend he also starts to fall for Julia, something which ends up causing trouble rather than good.

Courtney B. Vance as the Reverend Henry Biggs in The Preacher's Wife (1996)

The storyline to "The Preacher's Wife" is one which many people will recognize, it has a familiar feel as an angel comes down to help the tired and stressed out Reverend who is not only struggling with keeping his church going whilst fighting off the clutches of a developer but also the knock on effect that he is failing to spend time with his family. It feels like it's inspired by the classic "It's a Wonderful Life" but manages to make a storyline which doesn't feel like a pale imitation. All of which is good and so is the way the storyline develops as the Angel Dudley ends up falling for the Reverend's wife, it's a nice twist on the tale making it more than just about a man who has become stressed out.

Like with many movies that focus on the Christmas period it delivers a blend of warmth, a little romance and some comedy. It's a pleasant enough blend with plenty of scenes which will make you smile although rarely reaching the point of laughing, something it strives to do. In the scene where Dudley suddenly crashes down to earth and starts to enjoy being physical again, eating food from a street vendor there is something amusing about it, but the actual jokes fall slightly flat. It works well enough and with several scenes featuring Whitney Houston singing "The Preacher's Wife" manages to keep you interested in what is going on.

But then there is something missing. As it tries to deliver that uplifting message about hope and belief it never reaches that peak of really being uplifting. It sort of lacks that magical quality which makes you believe in hope. It's a shame because otherwise "The Preacher's Wife" is a nice take on a story which has plenty of potential.

Alongside Whitney Houston, who excels when singing but slightly struggles when she needs to show her acting capabilities, there is the always impressive Denzel Washington and as Dudley the angel he is as entertaining as ever. It's thanks to Denzel's performance that "The Preacher's Wife" makes you smile and keeps you interested. He delivers a performance full of life, oozing charisma through out. It's a good job too because whilst Courtney B. Vance is good as Reverend Henry Biggs and Gregory Hines does his best to be slightly villainous as Joe Hamilton the realtor looking to demolish the church their performances are a little flat.

What this all boils down to is that "The Preacher's Wife" is a nice enough movie. It keeps you entertained with some comedy, a little emotion, probably more musical moments that were necessary and a performance from Denzel Washington which brings it all together. But it lacks that little bit of magic which makes you believe that if you Hope things will happen.

Tags: Christmas Movies