Preacher's Wife [1996]

Director: Penny Marshall
Stars: Denzel Washington, Whitney Houston, Courtney B. Vance, Gregory Hines, Jenifer Lewis
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Fantasy
Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Runtime: 124 minutes

This tedious remake of the classic Christmas movie The Bishop's Wife falls on its face by significantly altering the careful design of Pulitzer Prize-winning author Robert E. Sherwood's story for the original film. In Sherwood's version, a rather wooden, inept bishop and his lonely wife unknowingly take into their lives a heaven-sent angel who aids the former and ends up falling in love with the latter. In this unnecessary update, an inner-city preacher (Courtney B. Vance) and his estranged spouse (Whitney Houston) are visited by a celestial goof (Denzel Washington), whose unsolicited offer of help is enough to galvanize Vance's character to fix his own problems. What that means is this: by the second act, there's no reason to have Washington's angel in the story. Even his infatuation with the missus isn't enough to warrant his hanging around this movie; the change is a colossal blunder by director Penny Marshall. Vance ends up stealing the film from Washington, but it's a Pyrrhic victory; for the most part this movie just seems like a series of random scenes between opportunities for Houston to belt out songs. --Tom Keogh

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