Making the Grades
No one would ever guess David D.T. Taylor (Boris Kodjoe), who is best known for his breakthrough hit song "Let Me Undress You," began his career by singing gospel music in his father's church. Nor does the R&B artist's religious upbringing show in the way he enjoys all the wine, women, and other perks associated with his professional success. But his past suddenly haunts his present after an urgent telephone caller (Aloma Wright) begs the entertainer to return to the home he ran away from fifteen years earlier.
Out of duty more than desire, David takes a break from his touring schedule and heads to his old neighborhood to find out what's ailing his dad. Bishop Fred Taylor (Clifton Powell) meets him with both surprise and pleasure. Willing to overlook previous differences, the aging man eagerly hopes their reunion will bring his estranged son back to God.
However, not everyone is as optimistic, especially David's childhood friend Charles Frank (Idris Elba). Having pursued the ministry during his absence, Reverend Frank is now preparing to take over the parish when the ill Bishop retires. Having little faith his former pal is capable of reformation, and anxiously awaiting his pending advancement, the man of the cloth resents the secular superstar's intrusion into his spotlight.
Despite Charles' cold shoulder and pleas from his manager (Omar Gooding) to get back on the road, David stays on with his father, becoming more involved in church politics and efforts to fundraise for a new building. A pretty girl (Tamyra Gray) in the church choir seems to be an added incentive.
Those who love Gospel music will appreciate the script's inclusion of a benefit concert, which provides a blessed excuse for performances by some well-known names like Yolanda Adams, Hezekiah Walker, Fred Hammond and Donnie McClukin. Former American Idol contestant, Tamyra Gray, also gets an opportunity to showcase her vocal talents amidst this infectiously toe-tapping, hand-clapping medley.
The movie, which is loosely based on the parable of the prodigal son, ambitiously attempts to explore the similarities between the apparently different sins of willful rebellion and self-righteous pride. Along the way a few content issues emerge, such as references to sexual relations, scantily dressed girls dancing sensually, a mild profanity and the misuse of alcohol (an emotionally distraught character is shown drinking and driving). Despite these brief concerns, the greatest problems with this production are a plodding plot and some meandering storylines. Yet perhaps such flaws can be forgiven in a film that is so obviously trying to share a message of redemption and grace.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about The Gospel.
Why do you think Bishop Taylor counseled Reverend Frank to spend “less time looking good and more time doing good?” Why is it often easier to concentrate on outward image than inward attitudes?
The hardest question asked by characters in the film is: “God, what do you want from me?” Have you ever wondered what course to follow in your life? Where do you turn to seek direction?