The Preacher's Wife (1996) Poster

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Pretty good, enjoyable
kyle-cruse27 June 2009
There is no reason to be hard on this film. An overall rating of 5.2 is very low, in my opinion, and there is little to dislike about "The Preacher's Wife." It's a fairly simple story involving Dudley (Denzel Washington), an angel sent to earth to assist a pastor's marriage during Christmas time. One reason I liked this film is because few romantic comedies in recent years have been clean enough to watch with the entire family. There is almost nothing objectionable here, just a few brief, very mild swear words that have no bearing on the film. It's a decently funny film as well. I had to laugh at Dudley finding an image of a Windows computer screen in his angel handbook. The wisecracking grandmother was also a beneficial addition to the movie. Take her comment "We're gonna play Monopoly, with real money." There are still a few things that could have been improved on. The plot twist involving Dudley falling in love with Whitney Houston could have been played up more and was not nearly as funny as it had the potential to be. Also, the chemistry between the main couple is not super good, and the film lacks the romance necessary to make this a great rom-com. Nevertheless, it's enjoyable and doesn't deserve any harsh comments.

Note: Because of the abundance of Christmas-related content, it's best to watch this around Christmas time, or you may feel slightly embarrassed.

*** out of ****
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Romantic winner
cg-cgeorge25 December 2008
This is a wonderful piece of work that should not be compared with any other in the genre of the Christmas/angel type or the so often mentioned Bishop's Wife. Its not the first film to use an old story and alter it and should be looked at as an original piece of work which is what it is. It simply works well mainly because it is perfectly cast, any romantic will be drawn in, willing the beautiful people in this case Whitney Houston and Dezel Washington together. Washington is pure magic on the screen, playing the inoffensive angel who ignores the ignorance and rudeness thrown at him by thoughtless people who should know better, he pulls off some great moments in the story. Unusually too the children are well cast, not too sugary or given scene stealing lines, they complement the adults rather than displace or ridicule them. This is a specialist type of film, a romantic, unrealistic dreamy story, and must be judged in that light.
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It's a Wonderful Bishop's Life
zunitrail-112 March 2010
I saw this when it was in the theaters. I basically loved it mainly for its music and Jennifer Lewis' (Julia's mother) performance, but also I loved the opening and closing (climax) scenes. I'm basically a sucker for that kind of thing, and I understand how other people wouldn't find it interesting. I just saw the movie (The Bishop's Wife) which it was based on and finally feel qualified to comment. TPW was not just a remake of TBW, but more of a combination of TBW and "It's a Wonderful Life." Henry in TPW was the character of Jimmy Stewart in IWL, always caring for the underdog (altho very cynical to the angel's angelhood); Joe Hamilton in TPW was "Mr Potter" of the same, with his schemes to redevelop and control the town. I actually found it charming the way elements of TBW found themselves woven into TPW: the ice skating scene, the typewriter-turned-PC, the final sermon, to name a few. But I did realize that the message had been diluted into a feel-good comedy. There are no moments where one feels deeply moved merely by dialogue, such as TBW's Dudley's story of David and the Lion, which captivates the Bishop's entire household, down to the all-business secretary (not to mention the audience!). In TPW, we are made to be moved by the beautiful music; and as such, I guess we might as well just buy the soundtrack. TBW reminded me that special effects are only as good as the movie itself.
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I loved it
carolynspringmorrison25 December 2009
A very long time ago I happened on "The Bishop's Wife" and really liked it, but it wasn't a Christmas classic and I never saw it again. So when I realized there was a "re-make" I was excited. I liked this story even better! I thought Whitney Houston was terrific and the rest of the characters (especially her mother) were also very enjoyable. Sometimes I just need a break from the mayhem and violence and this is a sweet, uplifting, old-fashioned Christmas pleasure I try to watch every year. If you like Denzel, if you like Lionel Ritchie, if you like Gregory Hines, and especially if you like gospel music, please give this movie a try.
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A pale remake of a minor Christmas classic
jlacerra30 June 2001
You have to wonder why some folks out in Hollywood try to remake that which was done so very well the first time. You can just see them sitting around the conference table talking about adding color and, oh, yeah, lets make the characters black! It would be OK if they really tried to do it better. But they are really just trying to cash in.

Such is the case with "The Preacher's Wife". A modernized color version of the Cary Grant vehicle, "The Bishop's Wife", the insertion of even this excellent black cast does nothing to enhance the story.

Denzel never seems to capture the sly charm of Dudley, the angel sent to help the Preacher. Now we know Denzel can be a charmer, but even he cannot deliver through this tired direction and uninspired script. Nothing really works in the movie (unless, perhaps, you never saw the original), the Preacher is not sympathetic enough, Whitney isn't at full strength as the title character, and even Gregory Hines can't seem to make the villain seem like much of a baddie.

A thorough waste of time and celluloid!
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I Liked It
olivia porazzi22 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
Maybe I am one of the few people on this message board that actually liked this movie. I thought it was great. It was a charming story about the power of miracles and the fact that angels do really exist. (Of course, we wish they all looked like Denzel Washington, but they do exist!) This is my favorite type of a story because so many people these days forget about the miracles every day.

I mean, here comes Dudley, an angel, from heaven sent to help out a family that was about to come apart. Maybe some people don't believe that is possible, but I certainly do. The performances were amazing and we get to hear Whitney Houston's beautiful voice. Give this movie a shot!
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SnoopyStyle10 November 2015
Reverend Henry Biggs (Courtney B. Vance) leads a poor church in a struggling neighborhood. He has placed his work above his wife Julia (Whitney Houston) and son Jeremiah. She leads the choir. Property developer Joe Hamilton (Gregory Hines) is taking over the neighborhood. An angel named Dudley (Denzel Washington) comes down to answer Henry's prayers. Henry tries to help local kid Billy Eldridge who is falsely arrested for armed robbery. His incompetent secretary Beverly (Loretta Devine) is concerned that Dudley is replacing her.

This movie is trying for some comedy which Courtney B. Vance is unable to deliver. The pairing of Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston would be great if they're in another movie. Her singing is tremendous but her relationship with Dudley is awkward. She's married and he's an angel. The most compelling part is Billy Eldridge but his part is very small. The whole thing is problematic.
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Beautiful Romantic Entertaining Movie
danceability-14 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
As a rule I don't tend to warm to remakes of classic films however the Penny Marshall directed Christmas story "The Preacher's Wife", is a definite exception and has become one of my favourite festive season viewing experiences. Based on the classic Samuel Goldwyn film "The Bishop's Wife", which starred legends Cary Grant, Loretta Young and David Niven, this 1996 effort has a charm and slant on the essentially same story all its own. Denzel Washington in the role of an angel sent down to earth to sort out the life of a preacher who has lost sight of what really is important, is a most worthy successor to Cary Grant in the original film and Whitney Houston in the female lead displays a warm screen presence and great musical talent that couldn't be bettered in this type of story. Amazingly I only saw this film for the first time 3 years ago but it has become a firm favourite of mine ever since. Combining a traditional and much loved Christmas tale with some truly wonderful gospel singing gives this effort a really upbeat feel which however never sacrifices for one minute the more touching aspects of the story.

A truly inspirational and touching story filled with some beautiful music and comic pieces is the best way to describe this beautiful little movie. I love all three lead performances here and it's a joy to see Denzel Washington, normally the star of some intensely dramatic films, in such a charming and light hearted role as Dudley. He displays a fine comic talent and teams especially well with the other two leads. If ever there was a proper successor to Cary Grant in this role then Denzel Washington is it. Whitney Houston does very well in the role of Julia and she displays a nicely touching persona especially in her scenes with her screen son. She of course comes alive in the musical numbers many of which she produced herself. I've become a big fan of gospel music after her terrific rendition of such numbers as,"Step by Step", and especially the show stopping "I believe in you and me". Courtney Vance playing the earlier David Niven role of Henry is also excellent and his performance contains a lot of the dramatic meat of the story as the essentially kind hearted preacher who is torn too many ways and sees himself loosing his family. His work with Denzel Washington in particular is note worthy especially in the scenes when he can't seem to understand just "where", this mysterious helper has suddenly come from. Other standouts in the cast are Loretta Devine as Julia's mother in a very funny performance full of great lines and wry observations about what is happening in the Biggs household, and Gregory Hines as sharp business man Joe Hamilton who in turn is also affected by Dudley's presence in his previously rather shallow life. The look and feel of "The Preacher's Wife", makes it a wonderful newer Christmas viewing experience and much of the credit goes to the church scenes with the St. Matthew's choir taking centre stage. Their singing and expert handling of all the gospel music is perfect and really gets you into the feel of the season.

As a "modern", Christmas story I personally feel "The Preacher's Wife", is a most worthy successor to the well known and greatly loved earlier classics like "White Christmas", and "Miracle on 34th Street". Taking a very different slant on the story than the earlier 'The Bishop's Wife", it manages to be wholly original in its own way and makes delightful seasonal viewing. Try and see this touching film next Christmas and I'm sure it will become a treasured part of your holiday viewing like it is in my home.

danceability-1, Amsterdam Holland
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Pretty Stupid Re-Make
ccthemovieman-113 November 2006
I just couldn't get into this film, a re-make of sorts of "The Bishop's Wife." The first hour was either annoying or just plain boring, and by then I didn't care what happened in the rest of the movie. Not much happened throughout this film, anyway.

The angel in here, "Dudley" (Denzel Washington) said things no angel would say, such as "If you're up there, Lord, then....."

"If???" He's an angel and he doesn't know if there is a God? Puh-leeze. What an insult to anyone's intelligence and beliefs. Only the secular film world have a dialog like this, where "Secular Humanism," not Christianity, is worshiped, as it is in this film.

Whitney Houston looked good in here, the best I've ever seen her. Washington went around with a sappy look on his face through most of the film. I wonder if he was just embarrassed starring in a dumb movie like this.
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Great movie, and a much better remake.
jumpjoypark1 March 2004
Fine and uplifting remake has everything going for it. A great leading man (Denzel Washington) and a great cast of characters that will lift your spirits when you are down. Penny marshal has made a new Xmas classic, and it's a much better movie than the original Bishop's Wife.I like the original as well with Cary Grant but Denzel Washington makes an even better angel, and gives an even bigger heart.

Great support is giving by Courtney B. Vance and Whitney Houston, and the late Gregory Hines in one of his finest performances. The soundtrack by Miss Houston is simply amazing, and it has every that a soundtrack should have in it. This is one fine and amazing movie, see it and let a smile come a cross your face.
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Disappointing remake
Whythorne4 September 2005
Yet another cinematic remake of an older classic that begs the question: "Why?" Especially when the changes made to script and story not only offer no improvement, but are actually giant steps backward.

"The Bishop's Wife," upon which this film is based, beats this one hands down in all major categories of story, direction, and acting. I even enjoyed the original soundtrack by Hugo Friedhofer far better, in spite of the fact that this film was obviously intended to be a vehicle to exploit Whitney Houston's vocal talent. (Does that remind you of another Whitney Houston vehicle co-starring Kevin Costner?)

In the original movie, a need for an angel to be sent to the Bishop makes perfect sense...the bishop played by David Niven was obviously conflicted with earthly ambitions and had lost his way spiritually, sadly neglecting his wife and child in the process. In this remake, Denzel as Dudley the angel seems lost as to what his mission is. In fact, the Preacher often seems to be a better person than the angel in this version! The basic problem is that the Preacher is so dedicated in his role as pastor helping the sick and troubled ghetto kids, his time as a family man is understandably stretched thin. (Incidentally, there is a scene where Henry the preacher is spending quality time with his son, which even undercuts the film's attempt to construct this minor conflict.) Anyway, it all seems more like a job for a scheduling consultant than something as drastic as sending an angel down from heaven to perform "miracles".

The Bishop's Wife was also made during a time when Hollywood did not shy away from Christian spiritual themes. While Cary Grant's Dudley the angel is clearly a messenger and servant of God, Denzel Washington's tired glances skyward seem to indicate a reluctant impatience with the Almighty that further contradicts his role and ultimate purpose in the story. And as can be expected in this era of movie sermonizing, humanism is the true "savior" celebrated on Christmas Day.

A handsome cast with Denzel and Whitney, but lacking all the charm, subtle spiritual depth and cohesion of the original.
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Boring, predictable film.
Brad K.19 December 1998
Denzel Washington (Glory, Crimson Tide) is a good actor, but there isn't much he could do about The Preacher's Wife a boring and predictable film. Denzel stars as an angel who is sent to Earth to help out the preacher, played by Courtney B. Vance (Hamburger Hill, Panther), with his church and family. Whitney Houston (The Bodyguard) plays his wife who Denzel gets a crush on. The film had some potential with Washington as an angel, but can't do anything with it. Houston is OK as the wife. Vance is a talented actor and does the best he can with a boring role. For those who are interested, my mom loved the film and owns it, so I recommend the film if you like movies such as, While You Were Sleeping and Sleepless in Seattle.
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Barely Watchable
davegering27 July 2007
Let me state up front that I am a fan of both Denzel Washington and Whitney Houston. I am not, however, a fan of this movie.

The script is a complete mess; this movie doesn't know what it wants to be or wants to do. None of the leads is particularly credible in his or her roles. The story is not funny enough to be a comedy, nor compelling enough to be a drama. Another problem, and a big one, is the constant lead-ins to Whitney Houston musical numbers that don't really fit the story.

I didn't find this movie very entertaining, and frankly, there were a couple of times I surfed away looking for something better.
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A fine film...
ichaerus28 September 2004
This is a very strong piece of cinema, particularly the performance of Denzel Washington. As always, he shines above all others in his creative endeavors, and though it does not compare overall to his more recent works (i.e. "Man on Fire", "Training Day", and "The Hurricane") it is still a wonderful move. Not actually a remake of "It's A Wonderful Life," (an apparently common misconception) the film is a remake of a much older black and white film called either "The Reverend's Wife" or "The Minister's Wife" (I am uncertain which). This piece is a step in a different direction from the roles that Washington typically plays. Though it has it's serious and heavy dramatic moments, the film is, overall, a comedy. And, like his other departure "Training Day," this film succeeds at what it was attempting to be, a warm and realistic dramedie. If you haven't seen it yet, it is definitely worth the viewing.
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Very romantic and touching movie
Catherine_Grace_Zeh17 November 2005
THE PREACHER'S WIFE, to me, is a very romantic and touching movie. I thought that Julia (Whitney Houston) looked very pretty in the black dress she wore when she and Dudley (Denzel Washington) went to Jazzie's together, which is where she sang "I Believe In You And Me." I would have to say that "I Believe In You And Me" is my favorite song of this movie. She sounded good when she sang that and every other song she sang in the film. Reverend Biggs (Courtney B. Vance), to me, was a good preacher and father. One of the funniest things about the film is when the boiler broke when the choir was rehearsing. That was weird, but it was funny! In conclusion, if you are a fan of Denzel Washington or you should see this movie if you haven't seen it. When you see it, prepare to be touched and amazed.
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Good christmas film for the family
DunnDeeDaGreat16 June 2003
The Preacher's Wife is food film that your whole family can enjoy at christmas time. I remember seeing this film six years ago and loving it.This was Denzel's and Whitney's first foray into family territory and both actors succeed. The two have great chemistry together and the choir scenes really get your fingers snapping. Justin Pierre Edmond who played Jeremiah was also good in his first role hope we see more of him.
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Loved this movie
robert_fulton118 November 2006
I first saw this movie right when it came out, when I was a kid. I loved it then, and still watch it every Christmas (and sometimes when the holidays are still months away!). I've seen the original movie "The Bishop's Wife" and liked it, and I think this remake is very well put together. Whitney's voice in incomparable. The perfect soundtrack for her to be singing on. Heart-warming and fun for the whole family. It's one of the few movies that I can watch over and over and over again, and not tire of it. Denzel plays Dudley with just the right charm, and tries to do the right things, but doesn't always seem to make it. Courtney Vance is the picture of a frustrated pastor (I come from the family of a minister. Trust me, he plays the tough times to a tee!) still trying to do what he should, and managing to make it work. Great family film.
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Look a little harder
youredg13 April 2005
This movie is not one that was made to make awards and reach the hierarchy of its peers. It was developed for the holiday season but it was also made quite simply to remind us that in life there must be faith. Much like the message at the end of the movie, just because you can't see air, doesn't mean its not there. Faith can be religious but in this movie, faith went much further and it would appear some failed to see this aspect.

Those who say their bored are perhaps the very people that need the message of the movie much like Ms. Houston. It speaks about love that is everlasting not only in the terms of religion but in our lives, relationships and our communities as a whole. It is very odd that anyone would not enjoy this movie. It is uplifting and funny, but most importantly if you are human it makes you take a serious look at those around you.
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Denzel hits a bump in the road
guyb20 December 2000
Usually I'm a huge fan of Denzel Washington, but not this time out. He just phones it in and isn't really given much to work with. This is very light predictable stuff. Unless you are into black church music and Whitney Houston, forget it and go to bed early.
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That man is so oily, you could fry chicken on his smile.
Ben Larson13 February 2012
Taking nothing away from Cary Grant and David Niven, as The Bishop's Wife is one of my favorite films - a film that I can watch over and over - this film is a worthy successor.

The music is incomparable, of course. Nothing matches Whitney Houston. That alone makes the film a must see.

And, Denzel Washington. What can I say, He is fantastic in everything he does, and the chance to see him play an angel is a real treat. It reminds me of Devil in the Blue Dress or The Mighty Quinn . Those two films showed a different side to Denzel and this film is in that vein.

With Courtney B. Vance, Gregory Hines, Loretta Devine, Lionel Richie,and Whitney's mother Cissy Houston, this was an enjoyable film about faith and hope and love, with magnificent singing by Whitney.
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Nice Try
harry-7618 October 2002
This updating of "The Bishop's Wife" has much going for it. The cast is just fine, the productional values are on a high level, and the over all intention commendable.

What "The Preacher's Wife" ends up being, however, is only an average family film. The essential difficulty, as I see it, is in Nat Mauldin and Allan Scott's screenplay.

Their script seems to lack a keen sense of structure, with too many highs and peaks, often via musical performances, which emerge inserted and bloated rather than integral and balanced.

The decision to provide Whitney Houston with full-scale musical numbers tends to more distort than enhance the film's focus. After some rip-rousing bring-down-the-house gospel fests, it seems like the end credits ought to start rolling . . . instead the play goes on anticlimactically.

Director Penny Marshall might have stepped in and ordered some sharp editing to tighten matters up and shape the film into an effective dramatic form. For this seems to be not a musical, but a light comedy/fantasy with a few incidental music interludes.

How wonderful to see the excellent Denzel Washington in a role and film in which he so lovingly believes. He invests his earnest effort into making this a winner, and he's most ingratiating in the part. Houston makes a nice costar, and the entire cast is delightful.

There's much to enjoy in "The Preacher's Wife," and there are some mighty pleasant humanistic expressions to savor and delight in along the way.
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all the ingredients of a good holiday film
rebeljenn11 March 2006
'The Preacher's Wife' contains all of the ingredients that a good holiday film needs. The film is about a preacher who is struggling to find the romance with his wife, and he meets an angel who has come down to sort things out. The film also has an element of comedy to its touching story and the characters in it. The story is what makes this film a good one, and it is worth watching around the holiday season. It's generally a feel-good film, but it is not one that stands out completely with an original plot and stunning cinematography. It is simply a fun film, and it succeeds in that aspect. Just expect it to be another take on a romantic holiday film.
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Not good at all
missjenniferd7 April 2018
Warning: Spoilers
I loved whitney in the bodyguard. I also love musical movies if its contemporary. I also love denzel. I am also a christian. Therefore i thought i would love this movie. Wow, what a disappointment. I didnt like whitneys acting in this at all. I also didnt like the storyline for denzel. The angel was supposed to help them but he falls in love with the wife??? Noooo. Not my cup of tea. Denzels acting in this was subpar. The husband and the mother were the only ones who had good acting in this, but not enough to carry the film. Boring movie.
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OK, OK, I liked it.
Dude-625 September 1999
I had bought this movie as a gift for my mother, but I have ended up watching it more times than her. As much as it may seem as (to use the politically incorrect term) a chick flick, I loved this movie. It's great to see a movie with the message that God can bring good out of what may seem like an awful situation.
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