The Preacher’s Wife - * *

The Preacher’s Wife is a feel-good comedy that doesn’t quite work. The stars and music are appealing, but the comedy in the film never quite gels. Courtney B. Vance is Henry Biggs, a preacher in the broken down church of St. Matthews. Times are rough…there seems to be more and more to do, with less and less coming in. Henry prays for help, and is answered in the form of Dudley (Denzel Washington), an angel. The disbelieving Henry refuses to accept Dudley’s help, but Dudley manages to wriggle his way into Henry’s church and family affairs. Henry’s taken-for-granted wife, Julia (Whitney Houston), and their son, Jeremiah (Justin Pierre Edmund), are particularly taken by the charming angel. But will his help be enough, and can Henry save both the church and his marriage? Penny Marshall, who has previously shown a great flair for comic material, doesn’t accomplish much here. Washington and Houston are both appealing, but the movie never ignites any true chemistry between the two. The laughs in this comedy either never materialize or are mere chuckles where guffaws are tried for. Whitney’s songs are nice, but overused and seem to simply pad the movie. The elements are all there… you want to like the movie…but the combination of the ingredients creates a tasteless sludge rather than a hearty stew. You’d probably get more enjoyment out of the soundtrack than the film.

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