16 January 1997 Edition

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Heaven can wait

The Preacher's Wife

The good news is that heaven is Microsoft compatible, or so we are led to believe by Whitney Houston's latest Hollywood vehicle, The Preacher's Wife. The bad news is that there are no pizzas or hot dogs there that compare to the ones available on earth.

The film is the story of a priest in difficulties who asks for God's help which arrives in the form of an angel (Denzel Washington).

Good news about the film is hard to find. Yes, Whitney sings, so her fans will not be disappointed. Yes, there is a big torch song in the middle and the soundtrack is available at all good record shops.

Denzel Washington comes across well as the debonair angel. The preacher himself played by Courtney Vance is believable as an overworked minster-come-community worker in a rundown US city, but there is so much missing.

For a film that is a repeat of an old theme and where the end result is clear from the outset it really needs to hold your attention and this picture doesn't. The angel's role is hugely underplayed. There could have been a lot more celestial action.

The only other way for the film to go would be to put in a bit more gritty realism of just how bad things were for the urban community that the film is set in. This would have involved a complete rethink of the whole project.

The end result is not enough MGM musical fantasy or too little Hill Street Blues. Either way, until the menu changes heaven can wait.


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