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The Preacher’s Kid, starring LeToya Luckett, Tank, & Clifton Powell,  is a modern retelling of the prodigal son set in a Black church (a la The Gospel, Preaching to the Choir, etc) with a few key differences: 1. It’s a daughter instead of a son. 2. There is no sibling 3. The father is at first unwilling to let the daughter go and basically disavows her (one of my favorite lines in the movie, the Bishop says, “Don’t even mention me in your prays to God…” that’s some deep stuff!) These changes are not detrimental; in fact, it allows Luckett’s character, Angie, and her father, the Bishop, to be three-dimensional. Each gets to be flawed & make mistakes, and both characters have the opportunity to experience growth throughout the movie. Of course, most of the characters start out flat, one-dimensional, and uncompromising: Angie is a naive, sheltered Preacher’s Kid bursting to have a little independence; her father is  the typical keep her on a tight lease by strangling her with God father. But they grow in depth as the movie progresses.

The basic premise of the movie is that Angie has aspirations of becoming a famous singer. Her father is smothering her and depends on her entirely too much sense her mother died. After sneaking out with her friend and meeting Tank’s character, Devlin, she is invited by him to the gospel play he’s starring in. Enchanted by the opportunity to understudy the lead while singing in the choir, she decides to join the touring show. Her father refuses to let her; she leaves anyway. Calamity ensues.

Instead of going through the whole rigamarole, I’d rather just tell you the greatest problems and the greatest moments

The problems:

  • Devlin is NOT similarly three dimensional. He is the usual one dimensional charmer. The lead in the play, Des, and many other supporting characters are similarly used as plot props and filler fluff. The script attempts to make gestures at well rounded supporting characters, but it does such a good job of creating the father and daughter as human, there’s isn’t a lot of room for other whole characters.
  • Essence Atkins’ accent is a bit too much. Even though I love her character, I wish she had worked on that a bit more. As a country accent having girl myself, I was slightly offended.
  • The ending felt sped up, as we’ve been allowed to meander through the rest of the movie, lingering on character revealing moments and even a few useless dragging moments.

The greatest parts of the movie:

  • The one liners were classic–see the line from the Bishop I quoted. Also, Devlin tells Angie, “Don’t you ever, as long as you Black, disrespect me like that!” I fell off my bed.
  • LeToya Luckett has a heartbreaking scene breaking down as the camera rotates…no spirals, with “Inseparable” playing over it–the irony, the cinematography! Its so gorgeous; so painful/beautiful.
  • Clifton Powell–when isn’t he great. He is one of the most underrated performers working in the business today. He is funny and complex. He’s honest. Even though he plays sleazy like no other, in this movie I believed him as a hard but fair man.

It’s never in any question how this is going to end, but sometimes it’s not about the destination, but the ride. This movie is like the best rollercoaster–you get pulled along, you laugh, you cry, and when it’s over,  you don’t feel cheated you’re right back where you started.

A/A- *** stars