Over the years faith based movie companies have sugar coated their truths, and frankly, made crappy movies. As one who reviews film, who enjoys film, and has the opportunity to comment on film, I am more often than not embarrassed by what I see on screen. To comment on those movies that are hap hazard in their approach, and content, is hard because while some have good intentions, those good intentions just don’t matter to me. If one believes in God, has a movie based in part on their belief in God, I don’t understand why they present their story in such a horrible, lazy way.
I recently had the opportunity to interview the writer, director and producer of a new film, Preacher's Kid, Stan Foster prior to seeing his movie. This is always a dangerous thing, I don’t like being swayed in my approach to a film, and I know my greater responsibility is to the audience seeing the film. I was reluctant to interview Stan prior to seeing the movie, but it is the way it happened.
I saw Preacher's Kid on DVD. It had a short theatrical run and was recently released on DVD. I was cautious because the cast included individuals not well known for their experience in the medium of film. Preacher's Kid stars LeToya Luckett, formerly of Destiny’s Child as Angie, and Durrell ‘Tank’ Babbs, a real life R&B artist. Normally, using musicians and performers in a movie indicates there is likely to be good music, but often times, sub par performances. To have had such for this Prodigal Son scenario was what I expected, what I didn’t expect was the quality of acting. Much of the credit for the quality performances goes to the direction of first time director Stan Foster. While Foster has had his hand involved in numerous television and movie aspects as an actor, writer, and producer, this is his first venture into directing. What transpires on screen is beautiful. Foster understands when to use the craft of his cast, in most cases involving music, to tell a part of the story. As a musician myself, as one who enjoys good music, this is where the movie shines.
While Preacher's Kid has as a starting point, the church, it quickly realizes that the story isn’t about the church, as much as it is the concepts of leaving the things we love and living through our regrets. We see the pressures, in a respectful way, to both the Christian Church, and the non Christian world. It is a wonderful reminder that many of the stories in the bible are relevant. Preacher's Kid, through the direction of Foster addresses real life, spiritual issues while at the same time respecting the audience.
In Preacher's Kid we see Angie going through the struggles of being a preacher’s kid. As a pastor myself, who spent a great deal of time in the real world prior to being a pastor, this is presented in an honest and real way. We see a human pastor, Angie’s father played nicely by Greg Alan Williams. We see pressure coming down on a preacher’s kid from the congregation of a church, and the unknowing pressure sometimes presented by a loved one, in this case, a father who happens to be the Bishop of the church.
While Angie has a wonderful voice, sings in the church choir, she has a desire for more. One evening while out with a friend she decides to join a traveling gospel theater production. She quickly learns the road is not what she thought it would be, and the people on the road, even those in a ‘Christian’ production, are not always living up to what they are presenting. Angie quickly learns, and subsequently fails at following her beliefs, and living the life she was raised to live.
The spiritual applications are well presented and portrayed, and the story of The Prodigal, is lived out in a compelling way that many can relate to, even those who aren’t religious. We see real world situations, presented in a way that is refreshing, especially for a film which has as a starting point, the church. There is no sugar coating here, and while the movie could have been a little more realistic in its approach, especially with language, it gets the point across. We see things take place that are often ignored by those in faith communities. While faith communities may not address those things, there are ample stories that do, and ample examples many have lived.
The movie reminded me in many ways of another release featuring the story of The Prodigal son, The Gospel. While there are similarities, there are enough differences that both films are worth watching. Preacher's Kid is worth the package deal being offered by Wal-Mart and others where you can purchase the DVD and get a copy of the DVD in regular format, Blu-Ray and a downloadable digital copy. The music is exceptional, the transfer is quite nice, and the Blu-Ray offers some wonderful special features including a reflection on the concept of The Prodigal, a feature on LeToya Luckett and more. The Blu-Ray version is superior in the special features to the standard DVD, but the combo price again, makes both available to the buyer.
While the movie, Preacher's Kid did not do well at the box office, it is worthy of purchase and viewing. The Story of The Prodigal has been told for generations and is among societies most popular concepts. Foster presents a unique twist that will have those not familiar with the story thinking about not just the story, but on their own lives of where real love comes from, and the need for some to go back home, home in both a physical, and spiritual sense. For many a prodigal, those who are lost, this may be the message they need to hear, and a film like this could be the tool that gets them to hear that old story, uttered over 2,000 years ago. It has relevance for a society so desperately looking for ultimate love, and the realization that forgiveness exists.
On a scale of 1 – 10, while not a perfect movie, it is still a very good one and well worth watching. This is a movie with a quality young actress, LeToya Luckett. If you take those 7 letters in Luckett, you come out with a rather respectable score for the movie, a quality 7
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