The Preacher’s Wife
Some movies are "why" movies. Such is The Preacher's Wife. Why would heaven send an angel to help a marriage, and then have the angel fall in love with the wife? Why would the poor preacher of an inner-city congregation have a wife whose lifestyle would better fit the spouse of a televangelist? And why would a land developer put his whole new condo complex on the line until the preacher agrees to come run the church in his new development?
If you can imagine the classic Christmas movies It's A Wonderful Life and Miracle On 34th Street rolled into one, you might have an inkling of what was supposed to happen in this film. Henry Biggs (Courtney Vance) is the down on his luck minister, and Julia (Whitney Houston) is his despondent wife. She thinks Henry spends too much time saving souls and not enough time pleasing her. Surprisingly, the powers above agree, and send an angel, Dudley (Denzel Washington) to boost Henry's spirits. But when Dudley starts spending more time with Julia than Henry does, things begin to get warm under the mistletoe. Meanwhile Julia, with her endless wardrobe selection, condemns her humble husband when he is tempted to move to a posh new church.
For family viewing, there are some heartwarming moments. The one violent scene, a store robbery involving gunshots, is relevant, short, and to the point. Considering how few movies attempt to portray religion in a positive light, The Preacher's Wife deserves some recognition. It was just disappointing that some of the ideas were not developed further. Not until the final minutes does Julia discover that she can spend time with Henry while serving his parishioners.
Why? The answer can be found in Houston's character, who really is more Whitney than Julia. The sole purpose of this movie is to frame Houston's talents. Yes, the music is great, and Houston can act, but she is too much star to be put atop of a story as weak as Charlie Brown's tree.