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"THE PREACHER’S WIFE"
(1996) (Denzel Washington, Whitney Houston) (PG)

Alcohol/
Drugs
Blood/Gore Disrespectful/
Bad Attitude
Frightening/
Tense Scenes
Guns/
Weapons
Minor None Mild Minor Mild
Imitative
Behavior
Jump
Scenes
Music
(Scary/Tense)
Music
(Inappropriate)
Profanity
None None None None Minor
Sex/
Nudity
Smoking Tense Family
Scenes
Topics To
Talk About
Violence
Minor Mild Moderate Minor Minor


QUICK TAKE:
Drama: An angel appears to help a troubled preacher and his family.
PLOT:
Reverend Henry Biggs (COURTNEY B. VANCE) is a hard working preacher who cares deeply for his church and his congregation. His hard work, however, leaves little time for his wife, Julia (WHITNEY HOUSTON), or son, Jeremiah (JUSTIN PIERRE EDMUND). To make matters worse, a local developer, Joe Hamilton (GREGORY HINES) is putting pressure on Henry to move to another church to allow Hamilton to build a planned community where the present church stands. Henry begins to feel that he’s losing his faith and prays to God for help. And God responds by sending an angel, Dudley (DENZEL WASHINGTON) to help and watch over the Biggs family. Henry doesn’t believe that Dudley’s an angel, but the rest of the Biggs family, including Julia’s mother, Marguerite (JENIFER LEWIS), find him heaven sent for his calming demeanor and helpful ways. With Henry too busy to spend time with his wife, Dudley fills in and he and Julia begin to bond, a relationship that soon troubles both Henry and Marguerite. As Christmas Day nears, Dudley does what he can to bring the Biggs family together.
WILL KIDS WANT TO SEE IT?
Unless they’re fans of any of the stars, it’s doubtful they’ll be attracted to this film.
WHY THE MPAA RATED IT: PG
The MPAA reason was not available, but we'd guess that it was for the use of a gun and for very minor sexual innuendo.
CAST AS ROLE MODELS:
  • DENZEL WASHINGTON plays an angel who’s happy to have returned to Earth. He works to bring the Biggs family together and develops an attraction to Julia, but nothing comes of it.
  • WHITNEY HOUSTON plays the devoted wife and mother who develops an attraction to Dudley’s kind and caring demeanor.
  • COURTNEY B. VANCE plays a hard working preacher who works perhaps a little too hard on his congregation instead of on his family.
  • CAST, CREW, & TECHNICAL INFO

    HOW OTHERS RATED THIS MOVIE


    OUR TAKE: 7 out of 10
    This remake of "The Bishop’s Wife" (1947) is another attempt by director Penny Marshall at "magic" (the other being "Big"). But that’s just what’s missing from this film about an angel stepping in to help out a family in need. Granted there are a few angel interventions, but certainly not enough to fulfill what the audience is probably expecting. The few that are there bring about an enthusiastic response from the audience, but you get the feeling that maybe there was more here originally that was left on the cutting room floor. Washington’s character is fun to watch -- he’s all bubbly, confidant and debonair -- but he’s not on screen enough. If you’ve got an angel in a film, we want to see angel action, or the inability of the angel to make his/her magic work. What we do get a lot of -- and maybe too much -- is watching and listening to Whitney sing. Granted she’s a great singer, but a few songs are enough and this begins to approach ego stroking. While these are just nitpicky items -- there’s certainly nothing wrong with the film and it’s rather enjoyable -- one wishes there was just a little bit more to it. We’ll wait and see if this holiday season’s other angel offering, "Michael" (with John Travolta), provides that magic. As this one is, we give it a 7 out of 10.
    OUR WORD TO PARENTS:
    Other than for one scene, this almost could have been rated "G," but since Hollywood believes that rating to be the kiss of death for box office returns, it's certain the scene was included for that reason. And that’s where a thief fires a gun back at a store he’s just robbed and the window shatters (It’s doubtful kids will want to see this anyway, so the "G" rating issue is a mute point). Other than that, there’s an innocent attraction between Julia and Dudley and a little innuendo from Julia’s mom regarding that relationship. There’s a little drinking and a little smoking, but nothing too bad. Besides Henry’s emotional distance from his wife, there isn’t much else to object to in this film that harkens back to time of more decent, humanized film making. We do suggest, as always, that you read the category listings just to make sure that this film will be okay for you and your family.

    ALCOHOL OR DRUG USE
  • Henry preaches about temptation, "...not what you’d find in a liquor store, or in someone else's bed...but of the soul."
  • People drink wine at a jazz club.
  • Hamilton drinks brandy several times.
  • BLOOD/GORE
  • None.
  • DISRESPECTFUL/BAD ATTITUDE
  • Due to his dedication to his church and congregation, Henry doesn’t pay attention to his wife and their marriage becomes strained due to that.
  • Hamilton wants Henry to move to another church so that he can tear down the old one to build a planned community. He does so without thinking about what the community really needs.
  • A woman says that she hopes she’ll find Saul (a rotund limo van driver) under her tree for Christmas and then says, "If he fits."
  • Julia jokes about Henry’s mother being fat saying that when the police saw her coming down the sidewalk they said, "Break it up" (implying that they thought there was more than one person there).
  • FRIGHTENING SCENES
  • There is a very brief scene where a thief races out of a store, turns and shoots his gun, with the shot shattering the window. The police then arrive and arrest the wrong person.
  • GUNS/WEAPONS
  • Handgun: Used by a robber to shoot out the window of a store he’s just robbed.
  • IMITATIVE BEHAVIOR
  • None, other than what’s listed in the other categories.
  • JUMP SCENES
  • None.
  • MUSIC (SCARY/TENSE)
  • None.
  • MUSIC (INAPPROPRIATE)
  • None.
  • PROFANITY
  • 2 hells, and 5 uses of "Oh my Lord," 2 uses of "Oh God," and 1 use each of "Lord have mercy,"and "For God’s sake" as exclamations.
  • SEX/NUDITY
  • Henry preaches about temptation, "...not what you’d find in a liquor store, or in someone else’s bed...but of the soul."
  • Henry asks Jeremiah what he should get Julia for Christmas. Jeremiah replies that his mother "wants to go to bed." Henry can’t believe what he’s hearing and then Jeremiah says that he saw Julia and Dudley looking at nightgowns in a store window.
  • Marguerite notices Julia’s attraction to Dudley and reminds her that she’s a married woman. Julia comments that she can still go "window shopping." Marguerite then tells her she better not go "shopping" with "any money in your pocket" and "you better not use the lay away plan."
  • SMOKING
  • Marguerite smokes a cigarette in several scenes, and Dudley tells her it's not good for her.
  • Hamilton holds a cigar (once lit, once not) in two scenes.
  • Some jazz musicians smoke.
  • TENSE FAMILY SCENES
  • Henry and Julia are having marital problems due to his belief that he’s losing control of his congregation and community. He focuses so much time on them that he doesn’t spend time or pay attention to Julia.
  • Jeremiah is upset that a friend of his has to move away to a foster home, and then worries that he may have to leave sometime.
  • TOPICS TO TALK ABOUT
  • The existence of angels.
  • Spending too much time with work that one neglects their family.
  • VIOLENCE
  • A thief fires his handgun back at the store he’s just robbed and the shot shatters the window.
  • Henry grabs Dudley’s angel handbook and throws it in the fireplace where it bursts into flames.
  • Dudley blows a strong, angelic breath that first knocks over Henry and then Julia into the snow to shake them out of their doldrums.



  • Reviewed December 8, 1996

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