The Preacher’s Son is one of those films with obvious potential. But the script tries to pack three years worth of a soap opera into less than two hours. Instead of a film, this probably would play out better as a TV series to let all the various subplots breathe. What’s left is a jumbled, wildly inconsistent and erratic mess.
It’s best to view Preacher’s Son as a bootleg Tyler Perry production. So little of it makes since that it falls apart and doesn’t do much go off the rails, but careens and destroys the station.
Dante (Christian Keyes) is an aspiring lawyer, but if his domineering mother (Valarie Pettiford) has her way, he’s going into ministry like his father Bishop T.K. (Clifton Powell). On a random encounter at a convenience store, Dante meets Tonisha (Drew Sidora, Chasing Waterfalls), who’s struggling to make ends meet while caring for her crackhead mother (Vanessa Bell Calloway) and brother. But it’s Tonisha’s night job as a stripper that’s bound to cause some tension at some point.
Keyes has done a number of these lower budget romance dramas. He’s not the best actor, but he’s found a niche in these B-grade films and makes for a charming lead. Sidora seems to have more difficulty trying to channel Julia Roberts circa Pretty Woman and their chemistry rarely feels genuine. Dante also has to contend with his ex (Kellita Smith), who wants to rekindle their romance despite being married to a deacon.
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That’s more than enough of a plot to steer the film for its 110 min. run time. Screenwriter Carl Weber has other ideas and tries to cram in a subplot for every character. Weber is adapting his hugely popular The Church novels, but seems too eager to throw in every subplot from the books instead of just the important ones.
Dante’s sister, Donna (Brittany Perry-Russell), has her own drama with some parishioners, T.K. is considering a political campaign and Dante’s best friend, Shorty (Kareem J. Grimes), wants to win over Donna. And Jaleel White plays a lady loving deacon who can barely keep it in his pants. White is one of the better performers and it was a little disappointing he’s such a minor player. That’s a lot of agendas to cover and Weber seems overwhelmed trying to naturally lead the characters from one scenario to the next. Or even explain why Dante has such a nice car, but apparently is still living at home with his folks.
Director Trey Haley sets his cast up with some random scenes and questionable editing. Seconds after a family prayer, T.K. asks Dante why he hasn’t eaten his yams. It’s the most jarring when Haley has to sprint to the final act and the characters have to suddenly drop their convictions. Defining traits of characters get wiped away to get to the grand finale.
The soundtrack is also spotty with seemingly the most randomly cobbled together collection of songs regardless if they fit the moment.
To their credit, Haley and Weber don’t make a predictable film. Even if it seems like the movie is going in one direction, they throw in a ton of surprises. They rarely make sense and further raise questions on the merit of investing time in watching it. At least viewers won’t be able to tell what’s going to happen next with any certainty.
The Preacher’s Son needed a lot less drama and far more character development to be more than a disappointment. Haley and Weber are already working on a sequel, The Choir Director, slated for next year. Hopefully with the next film, they’ll fine tune the pacing to avoid another chaotic viewing experience.
Rating: 2 out of 10
Photo Credit: Netflix