Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
USA, 1996. Mundy Lane Entertainment, Parkway Productions, The Samuel Goldwyn Company, Touchstone Pictures. Screenplay by Nat Mauldin, Allan Scott, based on an earlier screenplay by Robert E. Sherwood, Leonardo Barcovici, from a novel by Robert Nathan. Cinematography by Miroslav Ondricek. Produced by Samuel Goldwyn Jr.. Music by Hans Zimmer. Production Design by Bill Groom. Costume Design by Cynthia Flynt. Film Editing by George Bowers, Stephen A. Rotter. Academy Awards 1996.
Though lazily directed by Penny Marshall, this modern update of The Bishop’s Wife is well worth watching. Courtney B. Vance plays a severely depressed preacher who is losing his faith in himself and his church, not to mention his integrity now that a successful businessman (Gregory Hines) is offering to buy his church from him and rebuild a swanky new one somewhere in the suburbs. One day he prays to God for a little assistance, not dreaming in a million years that it would ever come in the form of an earthbound angel (Denzel Washington) who comes to lift up the preacher’s morale and give him back his self-respect. Unfortunately, our protagonist doesn’t actually believe that Washington comes from up above, but his wife (Whitney Houston) is more amenable to the angel’s charms. Lots of great singing, especially by an energetic and appealing Houston, plus some touching moments overcome the annoying saccharine elements of the story (the couple’s son is the poster child for Planned Parenthood) and Washington’s unconvincing performance (he will never be believable as a complete innocent). Jenifer Lewis is fantastic as Vance’s tough-talking mother-in-law, and Loretta Devine has some great moments of her own as a mouthy secretary.