Warner Bros. | 2009 | 110 mins. | Rated PG-13

For the most part, Christian cinema has had a difficult time finding success among mainstream audiences. While I’m not exactly sure why, I suspect it’s because often times the filmmakers have been concerned with getting their religious message out there, often at the expense of the plot. Written and directed by Stan Foster, Preacher’s Kid is a story inspired by the biblical Prodigal Son, and told from a modern perspective. Though Preacher’s Kid is wholly predictable, Foster deserves credit for making a film that doesn’t claim to have all the answers, but encourages viewers to seek them out for themselves.

Preacher's KidDestiny’s Child alum turned solo R&B singer-songwriter LeToya Luckett stars as Angie King, the dutiful daughter of a stern but respected Bishop (Gregory Alan Williams). An exceptionally talented singer, the only time Angie gets to show her skill is at her father’s church. One night, in a rare act of rebellion, she sneaks away to see a concert performed by Devlin Mitchell (Tank), and manages to catch his eye. Before long, she’s on the road touring with him as an understudy in the play Daddy Can I Come Home, and exposed to all of the temptations and hardships of the outside world, and realizing Devlin may not be as forthright and honest as he seemed. With all of the pressure of potential fame bearing down upon her, her family begins to worry about whether she’ll give into the pressure, or if she’ll have the sense to come back home to her church. At the same time, Angie wonders if her father could ever forgive her for leaving home.

Luckett and her co-stars are likable enough, and Foster’s modernization of the Prodigal Son is more spirited and soulful than a mere paint-by-numbers retelling. Moreover, Foster manages to inject some attitude into his dialogue, which is too often missing from these types of pictures. Even his plot developments are hindered by convention, his script isn’t overwhelmed by sermonizing. This is a story of ego and redemption; hardly the type of thing that requires fire and brimstone proselytizing to get the point across. However, Foster inadvertently negates the essence of Jesus’ meticulously constructed parable. No longer a clear-cut symbol of the patient, understanding Father, Angie’s dad is a stubborn, temperamental shepherd dealing with as many issues as his daughter; definitely not the sort of archetypal character that holds up to New Testament scrutiny. Foster also ejects the original tale’s short-sighted sibling, largely ignores the concept of squandering a wealthy Father’s gifts and good graces, and ignores the moments of humility that finally brings the lost child home. The framework of the Prodigal Son is in place, but its nuances and complexities have been stripped away, more often than not, to the films detriment.

The biggest issue that Preacher’s Kid can’t overcome is its difficulty in dealing with sin. Like countless other Christian films, the world outside the church is largely looked at as cursed. Further, Angie is a young woman in her twenties, and she has to sneak out of the house to go to a concert. When she does, that is portrayed as an act of rebellion. While I realize Foster is directing scenes like that at his core audience, it’s also that approach that keeps larger audiences away. It’s a tough line to walk.

Preacher’s Kid comes to Blu-ray with a 1080p VC-1 video presentation. Detail levels vary, but are usually quite strong. The presentation is pretty much crystal clear and free of any technical issues or specks. Black levels are generally very strong, though they could have been inkier during the club scene towards the beginning of the film. Overall though, this is a solid transfer.

The English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track is fine, but nothing to write home about. The film’s music is clear, but lacking any real power. Dialogue was presented about as crisp and clear as one could expect. The film’s audio effects are front heavy and there was nothing in particular that stood out to me. The audio on this mix definitely gets the job done; just don’t expect to be amazed.

Optional subtitles include English (for the Hearing impaired), French and Spanish.

The Blu-ray edition of Preacher’s Kid includes a decent collection of special features, particularly for a niche release.

The Music of the Preacher’s Kid (HD, 9 minutes), a look at the songs, instrumentation, and inspiration behind the film’s score and soundtrack.
The Prodigal Experiences (HD, 15 minutes), is more promotional in nature, but gives key members of the cast and crew the opportunity to discuss the film’s production, the process of contemporarizing a well-known parable, and Foster’s characters, themes, and direction.
LeToya Luckett: A Rising Star (HD, 3 minutes) really much too short to properly introduce the singer turned actress to those unfamiliar with her work or career.
The Preacher’s Kid in Atlanta (HD, 2 minutes) briefly touches on the film’s locations.
Deleted Scenes (SD, 23 minutes) Fourteen in all
Digital Copy
Standard DVD

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