Reviewed by: Scott Brennan
Story of the prodigal son in the Bible
ANXIETY, worry and fear—What does the Bible say? Answer
What advice do you have for new and growing Christians? Answer
How do I know what is right from wrong? Answer
How can I decide whether a particular activity—such as smoking, gambling, etc.—is wrong? Answer
CHURCH—Why should Christians go to church? How important is it? Answer
DEPRESSION—Are there biblical examples of depression and how to deal with it? Answer
What should a Christian do if overwhelmed with depression? Answer
FORGIVENESS—How can I be and feel forgiven? Answer
GUILT—If God forgives me every time I ask, why do I still feel so guilty? Answer
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|Featuring:||Letoya Luckett (Angie), Tammy Townsend (Desiree), Carlos Davis (Biscuit), Andre Butler (Markus), Nadiyah Hollis (Performer), Javen Campbell (Garrett), Clayton English (Terrence), Kelly Finley (Meghan), Ella Joyce (Sister Watkins), Tank (Devlin), Rae'Ven Larrymore Kelly (Marcia), Dawnn Lewis (Mya), Gavin Luckett (Gavin), King Kedar (Marcus), Deetta West (Emma), Mari White (Keya), more »|
|Producer:||Stan Foster Pictures, Warner Specialty Productions, Marc Bienstock, Richard J. Cook, Matthew Crouch, Stan Foster, Darryl Taja|
“The Preacher’s Kid” could really be anyone’s kid, in terms of a young early “20-something” adult/child wanting to break out on her own, and experience life for herself, out from under the shadow of her father. But in this film, the PK’s name is Angie King (Letoya Luckett), daughter of the widower, Bishop King (Gregalan Williams)—who is a pastor, a preacher and a pillar in the Augusta, Georgia population. Angie has grown up taking care of daddy (since her mother died when she was a girl), supporting him by: helping keep the home, helping take care of his asthma, singing in the choir, and, generally, being at church anytime the doors were open—you know the drill.
But all that support goes out the window when Angie’s childhood dream comes floating into view one night in the form of a gospel-theatrical-tour-group, one that may take her from the church choir loft onto a stage in New York City. Of course, that lure comes complete with an instant infatuation with the silky-smooth-talkin’ star of the troupe, named Devlin (Durrell “Tank” Babbs) who promises her the world. Sound familiar? It should. He’s the antagonist in every Christian’s life. Just drop the “n” off of Devlin—and rearrange a couple of letters and “presto”—there he is—like an angel of light.
And so the journey (detour) begins with the befitting dialogue. “I’m leaving Daddy. I’ve wanted this—my whole life!” she cries. “I’m grown now, and I don’t need your permission! I’m sorry Daddy, but I have to do this for me!” What follows is the expected response from an overprotective parent, “If you walk out that door, don’t even think about coming back…” (paraphrased). I won’t outline more of the story than that—since this is such a familiar coming of age genre based on the biblical account of the prodigal. However, if you need a glimpse of the remainder of the storyline it can be seen in the official trailer(s), and I emphasize the plural, as there were a few of them. [Warning: one of the longer, earlier trailers on YouTube I would consider a “spoiler”—so be careful if you intend to see this movie in the theater.]
The film’s target audience is likely the underserved urban community, particularly the African-American one, but its “relate-ability-factor” is high, and it easily crosses over into mainstream—as simply as “The Preacher’s Wife” did with Whitney Houston and Denzel Washington back in 1996. As stated above, the prodigal plot is a familiar one, retold in this modern parable that closely resembles a remix of “Dreamgirls” and perhaps one of Tyler Perry’s more serious films—which makes for great entertainment on top of a timeless story. I mean, Letoya Luckett can sing, and it’s not about “luck” (pun intended). She has a God-given gift, well-known to many already, but this is her first time acting in a feature film, and she really lights up the screen.
However, the movie doesn’t rest solely on the laurels of platinum-selling Luckett (one of the original members of the R&B singing sensations “Destiny’s Child”). Its foundation is the thoughtful screenplay by Stan Foster (“Woman Thou Art Loosed”), who also makes his directorial debut with this feature film and should be commended for a job well done. Additional commendations are in order for Matthew Crouch and Gener8Xion Entertainment for continuing to press in to provide quality Christian-themed films with moral and family values.
These “firsts” are backed by a shining supporting cast of additional talent, including current Grammy® nominee Trey Songz (Monty), Sharif Atkins of “White Collar” (USA Network) who plays Wynton—Angie’s duet partner in the film (one of my favorite scenes), Essence Atkins—plays the lovable, say-it-like-it-is, Peaches, EMI Gospel recording artist Kiki Sheard, veteran actor Clifton Powell, who plays Ike, R&B singer and producer “Tank,” playing Devlin, and, finally, a standout performance by Tammy Townsend, portraying Desiree Davis—the character I believe may have grown the most in the film. If I were writing a sequel, she would be in the script for sure. And, finally, perhaps the most important support of all was the original music by Tim Miner, which gave the film such color, depth, and emotion.
The PG-13 rating for obvious mature themes, sexuality, some violence and brief drug use are appropriate. Devlin’s character exhibits the darkest parts of the film with effects like enticing Angie to lose her virginity—which include a couple of kissing scenes, sensual touching, and fornication, which is inferred (not shown). There is another scene where he is smoking a joint, another where he slaps her across the face, and another more upsetting time, when he punches her behind a corner (not shown) out of jealousy. There are a couple of bruises that are shown on Angie’s face, also implying the domestic violence and one troubling time when he grabs her by the throat and moments later mutters something close to “Be in my bed when I get back or somebody else will be.”
Devlin is the definitive “player,” and it goes beyond his two-timing throughout the film. Besides the lies, his temper flares unexpectedly, which adds to the suspense. In the beginning she resists the alcohol, but later gives in—which even leads to her smoking pot on one occasion—after she has already left him and yet, sadly, found herself talking her way back into “the abyss.”
It is a little difficult to watch, at times, but, of course, this story doesn’t work, unless, like the prodigal, you finally wake up and find that you’re in the pigsty, and should go home to your father.
To test the content level, I spoke with a couple of moms with their teenage daughters after the film to ask them what they thought about it. Their responses were: “Loved it.” and “It was great and especially important for those who are younger—like our girls, who need to see what challenges may come in their futures. We were really blessed by this film.”
The reason this film works is because it speaks to us all. It reveals the human condition and the deceitfulness of the heart (Jer. 17:9), even for those who are raised up in the church. The battle to be waged is identical for everyone, against our 3 common foes: (1) the world (1 John 2:15), (2) the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21), and (3) the devil (1 Peter 5:8). There will always be Devlin’s appearing in our lives with that same old line, “When are you going to start experiencing life for yourself?” It’s the same line he’s been using for 6,000 years. It looks like freedom, at first, to an innocent girl from Georgia who has a heart full of dreams. But before you know it, you’re in over your head. That’s when Devlin says, “Would you ever say no to me?” In the movie, Angie answers, “That’s a dangerous question,” but in our lives, by that time, we know it’s too late. We know that we can’t say no to our drug of choice—be it fame, fortune or medication. It’s time to pay up—it’s time for the sacrifice. Freedom has been replaced with bondage, and we, like Angie, scarcely know how it happened. The gig is up, and only death and destruction await us without repentance on our part, and that—comes only by the grace of God.
Because of the strong positive message, I can confidently recommend this film for adults and mature teens, even though we know this story so well. It never grows old.
Violence: Mild / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: Moderate
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.