Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

One of the things that should be on every single person on the planet earth’s bucket list, and we mean everybody, is making a trek to see a Black Gospel Play at least one time because it is an experience like no other. The plays are a trip, the audience is a trip and it is all interactive. If you’re at the theater house watching Normal Mailer or August Wilson and you stand up in the middle of the play and start yelling at the characters, chances are you will be forcibly removed from the premises, but at a BGP… it’s almost encouraged. This brings us to freshman film director Stan Foster and his movie ‘Preacher’s Kid’ which is a very interesting film, and a good film, which has the unique dynamic of being a movie, that for all intent and purposes is a filmed Black Gospel Play about a Black Gospel Play. It’s complicated.

Singer LeToya Luckett is the title character of Angie who is the child of local Savannah Georgia Pastor Bishop King (Gregalan Williams). Angie, who is in her early twenties, has a life that isn’t so bad considering she has the respect of her community, has a father who loves her, a best friend in Marcia (Raevan Larrymore Kelly) who looks out for her and Wynton the choir director (Sharif Atkins) is not so secretly in love with her. Still, there must be more to life than going to bible study and cleaning church pews which will lead Angie to the local showing of the traveling gospel play, introduce her to the plays lead Devlin (Durrell ‘Tank’ Babbs) who she immediately falls for, gets her an impromptu audition for the stage director Ike (Clifton Powell) and will lead to the girl making the fateful decision of joining this play as an understudy to female lead Desiree Davis (Tammy Townsend). This isn’t Broadway so understudy is a euphemism for roadie.

Bishop King, as you might suspect, is none too pleased with Angie’s decision giving his prodigal daughter an ultimatum should she leave the house, but Angie’s outta here. Everything starts out pretty good for Angie since she is seeing a large portion of the USA through the window of a bus and she does have someone trying to look after her naïve little self in Peaches (Essence Atkins) but she loves her some Devlin. Devlin

doesn’t actually ‘love’ Angie but she is cute and tall and innocent and you can tell her just her about anything so she certainly has her appeal. Unfortunately for poor Angie, Devlin is also a psycho predator who uses and abuses the girl at every opportunity, which brings up one of Angie’s other more impressive traits, that being her ability to take a punch.

We can all clearly see that Angie needs to end this nonsense and go on back home, urged by her friends back home who have seen the state she is in. Then pile on the fact that Devlin seems to have completely lost his mind, the woman she is understudying for hates her and the only experience she is experiencing is pain and heartbreak, we see that Angie needs to get on out of there, but the Bishop isn’t returning her calls and she is still convinced that Devlin will ‘change’. Will the prodigal daughter find her way back home? Of course she will. Come on now.

‘Preacher’s Kid’ is a surprisingly effective drama that Stan Foster has cleverly written and directed deftly combining the genre of the Gospel Play and the Tyler Perry style overly dramatic film, but with some improvements over Perry’s work. I hope that’s not too blasphemous to say. Similar to most movies of this style, particularly Tyler Perry’s films, the characters are broadly drawn and the situation overtly extreme. Angie is naïve to a fault, Devlin is evil, The Bishop is stubborn and so on and so forth, but the difference in ‘Preacher’s Kid’ is that the characters do offer up a little more depth to their overall broad existence. Yes, Angie is naïve but she’s not stupidly naïve, she’s naïve because she’s inexperienced and LeToya Luckett plays her just about pitch perfect. Tank Babbs character of Devlin does things that are completely indefensible in this film but at least there is a foundation laid out for his inexcusable behavior and we’re not simply told that he’s a bad dude and left at that. It is these smarter than average characterizations and the actor’s ability to decipher these characters that place ‘Preacher’s Kid’ a step ahead of the game.

There’s also the ‘Clifton Powell Factor’ which lifts this movie up since Clifton Powell does some things as an actor that he does better than anybody. What this is I probably can’t put in words… well, I can… but rest assured that having Clifton Powell anywhere in your movie is a good thing. No matter how bad the movie, and I’ve seen Clifton Powell in some terrible movies, when he’s in that movie it automatically gets better.

Of course the movie isn’t perfect since it is painfully predictable and overly melodramatic which I’m sure is expected and my wife had a problem with a silly but convenient plot point about a botched pregnancy test that came later on in the movie, saying that such a thing, at least the way it’s presented here can’t happen, but what the hell would I know about that? I defer to her wisdom. The bottom line is that ‘Preacher’s Kid’ is a very entertaining little movie featuring some fine performances and some great music and for my money you can’t beat that.

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