Senior HTF Member
- Feb 20, 2001
- Livonia, MI USA
- Real Name
- Kenneth McAlinden
Directed By: Stan Foster
Starring: LeToya Luckett, Durrell "Tank" Babbs, Clifton Powell, Sharif Atkins, Gregalan Williams, Ella Joyce, Essence Atkins, Rae'Ven Larrymore Kelly
Studio: Warner Bros. (Warner Premiere)
Film Length: 110 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 16:9
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Release Date: May 11, 2010
The Film *
Preacher's Kid follows the travails of Angie King (Luckett), the daughter of the Bishop (Williams) of a large church in Augusta, Georgia. In her early 20s, she has grown up with her whole life centered around her father's church where she is the featured soloist in the choir. Tired of the pressures inherent in living up to her father's expectations, she rebels by sneaking out to see a "chitlin circuit" Gospel play when an evening of Bible study is canceled. She is immediately drawn to the performers, especially attractive and talented leading man Devlin Mitchell (R&B singer "Tank"), and earns a part as an understudy to lead actress Desiree (Townsend) after an impromptu audition in a restaurant. Bishop King disowns her after she announces her intention of going on the road with the theatrical company. Despite warnings from the play's super-strict Producer Ike (Powell), her touring roommate Peaches (Essence Atkins), and even at one point her old friends Marcia (Kelly) and Wynton (Sharif Atkins), Angie's naivite leaves her defenseless against the transparent but effective romantic "game" of the manipulative Devlin.
The phenomenal success of Tyler Perry has demonstrated the commercial potential of targeting the under-served middle class southern black and urban audiences with family and Christian themed plays, films, and television productions. The idea of centering such a film around the theatrical movement from which Perry initially emerged must have seemed like a can't miss proposition for Producer Darryl Taja and Writer/Director Stan Foster. Unfortunately, The Preacher's Kid proves to be an uninspired amateurish mess.
The plot concerning a young adult who is disowned by a religious leader father is literally as old as talking pictures, and much older than that if you want to trace it back to the Prodigal Son parable from the New Testament. While familiarity is certainly no crime in film or theater, projects operating on such oft-trodden ground need to distinguish themselves in some way if they want to hold an audience's attention. In the case of Preacher's Kid, rather than spin the familiar into something new and interesting, the plot is confounded with a "by the numbers" backstage drama that is as every bit as tired and cliched as the father-daughter story
When discussing the creative process, one often comes across stories of writers, directors, and/or actors discussing whether a particular scene or line reading is too "on the nose". From the evidence apparent on screen, I do not suppose that Writer/Director Stan Foster ever had such a conversation with anyone involved in this production. The dialog is filled with cliches and is more functional than expressive of character. The songs in the play within the film "just happen" to transparently communicate the most obvious surface feelings of the charcaters in the film at the time they are performing them. (e.g. Angie's big onstage moment has her singing a song called "Daddy, Can I Please Come Home"). Even the characters names are so lacking in subtlety that they evoke eye rolls: A sweet protagonist name "Angie" turns her back on her father, Bishop "King", is led astray by a manipulative player named "Devlin", and wishes to have the adulation and recognition of a lead actress named "Desiree"... Not helping matters is that fact that lead actors Latoya Luckett and Durrell "Tank" Babbs are much better singers than actors, and while they make an effort, they clearly are not capable of bringing any of the stale dialog to life.
The film's only real strengths are its musical numbers produced and composed by Tim Miner (of which there are not nearly enough), its setting in and around a theater movement of which a lot of viewers may not be aware, and a few bright spots in the supporting cast such as Ella Joyce as a church lady amusingly determined to win over the Bishop's heart and singer/actrees Tammy Townsend as Desiree who, in perhaps the only actual surprise of the movie, is not outshone by Latoya Lucket's Angie as a singer in the third act.
The Video ****
The 1080p VC-1 encoded transfer fills the entire 16:9 frame. Everything looks bright and super-sharp, but even though it is shot on film, it frequently looks like high-def video. This appears to be at least partly due to the way things are lit very brightly with highlights frequently on the verge of blooming, but there may also be some light grain reduction processing in the digital video domain.
The Audio ****½
The DTS-HD MA track is above average for a direct to video release with a very high fidelity rendering of a 5.1 mix that accomplishes its most important task of doing the film's musical numbers justice, but also comes to life to create an immersive three dimensional effect during the theatrical performances through aggressive use of surrounds to create both the sense of a live audience and a real "space" for the theater.
The Extras **½
When the disc is first inserted into a player, a series of skippable promos play. They are presented in VC-1 encoded 1080p video with Dolby Digital 2.0 audio):
Warner Digital Copy Promo (:48)
Valentine's Day Theatrical Trailer (2:14)
The proper special features on this disc are all presented in 1080p VC-1 encoded video with Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo sound unless otherwise indicated below.
Under the heading of Behind the Story are the following featurettes:
The Music of the Preacher's Kid (8:37) focuses on the music composed by Tim Miner for the film. Miner talks about how he identified with the film's themes due to his own childhood as a preacher's kid. In addition to general praise from filmmakers and actors towards Miner and his music, a lot of comments talk about how he composed songs to order based on where they appear in the movie and what the characters were feeling, which I personally thought was one of the film's weaknesses due to things being too "on the nose". Interview comments are offered by Composer Tim Miner, Producer Darryl Taja, Writer/Director Stan Foster, Tammy Townsend, LeToya Luckett, Durrell "Tank" Babbs, and Clifton Powell
The Prodigal Experience: Reflections on a Story (14:58) is the most comprehensive behind the scenes feature on the disc, and unfortunately, it is pure electronic press kit happy talk. The most interesting information through the whole featurette is the fact that Tim Miner provided the singing voice for Sharif Atkins' character. On camera mutual admiration is offered up by Foster, Miner, Taja, Townsend, Luckett, Rae'Ven Kelly, Babbs, Powell, Gregalan Williams, Sharif Atkins, Essence Atkins, and Powell.
Under the heading of Extras are the following featurettes:
LeToya Luckett: A Rising Star (2:34) is a brief biographical featurette on Luckett in which she discusses her history from singing in church to being part of the original Destiny's Child to her work in Preacher's Kid along with some complimentary words from her director and co-stars. On-camera comments are provided by Luckett, Miner, Sharif Atkins, Townsend, and Foster
The Preacher's Kid in Atlanta (1:33) is a very brief discussion of the film's Atlanta locations along with discussion of the appropriateness of this given that its is the birthplace of the theatrical movement it dramatizes. On-camera comments are provided by Powell, Foster, Luckett, Kelly, Essence Atkins, Sharif Atkins, Taja, and Townsend.
Under the heading of Additional Footage are a collection of outtakes. They are presented in VC-1 encoded 4:3 standard definition video letterboxed to 16:9 (22:31 w/"Play All"):
This is God's Work (2:02) - introduces a deleted subplot involving Ike convincing a successful business woman, Ms. Holden, to invest in their production.
Neither Your Baby, nor Your Girl (2:29) - continues the sub-plot with Ike and Ms. Holden both play hardball with each other when things are not going as promised.
Things You Should Know (:55) - Continues the subplot with Ms. Holden receiving a phone call about Ike selling bootleg merchandise and skimming box office receipts to keep funds off of the books. The actress playing Ms. Holden is good, but this sub-plot does not fit in with the main thrust of the movie. I couldn't help thinking that if it had been further developed, this subplot could make for a better movie than the one from which it was cut.
See You Found a Date (:45) is an episode from the sequence early in the film where Angie and her friend Marcia go to the Gospel play. They cross paths and have a brief conversation with Wynton and his cousin.
I Have to Be in the Show (2:12) Is an extended scene with Angie and Marcia after the show with extra material with Wynton and his cousin.
You Are so Beautiful (2:01) is an extension of the "first date" scene between Angie and Devlin where she ends up spending the night in his hotel room. It was covered by a few lines of dialog in the finished film.
Note to My Father (1:23) is a scene where Angie comes to pass a note to her father telling him that she is leading and discusses it with Marcia and Wynton. This scene establishes that the church choir will be performing at a "gospel fest" in New York, and losing it makes the appearance of Wynton in New York later in the film seem like a strange coincidence.
Excuse Me Bishop (:18) follows on the previous scene and features Wynton delivering the note to Bishop King
Your First (2:21) extends a scene in the finished film with a deleted subplot revealing that Peaches had been in a previous relationship with Devlin
You Still Mad at Me (1:52) is a reconciliatory scene between Peaches and Angie that conclude the deleted Peaches and Devlin history subplot.
You Can Thank Me Later (1:12) is a scene where Devlin further cements his "dog" status by giving Angie some jewelry in a romantic setting shortly after giving her a black eye.
Can I Sit There (3:35) is an extension of a scene between Angie and Ike on the tour bus featuring Ike telling more about his tough background than is revealed in the finished film.
You Alright? (:57) is a delted scene where Angie and Devlin discuss the possibility that she might be pregnant.
How Did You Find Me (:28) is a conversation between Peaches and Angie in a cab close to the film's climax that touches on the deleted Peaches/Devlin history.
SD DVD & Digital Copy - As is the case with all recent Warner BDs of theatrical new release titles, a separate disc is included with an SD DVD of the film and a digital copy. The DVD presentation is bare bones with the film in 16:9 enhanced widescreen video, English Dolby Digital 5.1 sound, and available English SDH, French, or Spanish subtitles. It has no extras. The video carries noticeable but not excessive signs of mpeg-2 compression ans minor aliasing, but is otherwise a solid standard definition presentation. The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is encoded at 384 kbps with fidelity suffering a bit due to the relatively low bitrate.
The digital copy is on-disc, and is compatible with either iTunes or Windows Media formats. It is unlocked through the use of a one-time password provided on a paper insert to the disc case.
The disc is enclosed in a standard Blu-ray case with an extra hub on the inner left side allowing it to accommodate the DVD/digital copy disc as well as the BD of the film. The only insert is a sheet with the code to unlock the iTunes or Windows Media digital copy.
Preacher's Kid is a disappointing spin on familiar dramatic family and show business cliches from filmmakers that seem almost pathologically determined to not surprise or challenge the viewer. Audiences looking for "films of faith" or an insider's look into the "chitlin circuit" of live theater deserve much better than this turkey which features a few good musical numbers from composer Tim Miner, but little else to recommend it. It is presented on Blu-ray disc with a very sharp visual rendering of its brightly lit cinematography and a DTS-HD MA track that does the musical numbers justice. The best extras are a collection of out-takes that include some subplots developing the supporting players that are arguably more interesting than what was left in the film. It is presented in a Blu-ray "Combo Pack" that also includes a SD DVD with the complete film as well as a downloadable digital copy compatible with iTunes or Windows Media.