TV Review - The Preacher's Son
The Man in 3B. The director of that film returns for this one and several of the actors from that film are used here as well.
The book was set in New York, whereas this movie is set in Los Angeles. The opening is similar to that of Queen Sugar on OWN. One could also say there's similarities to another OWN series, that of Greenleaf, which is about the adult child of a pastor and how much the church is a family business with just as much drama as any other business. Strangely enough, there is another TV series called Saints & Sinners on Bounce TV, which has a lot of the same cast and that is also about a church and the family that runs it.
This movie doesn't delve as deeply into the business or politics of the church as Saints & Sinners. It's less about the church in general. It starts out as a romantic comedy before becoming a moralistic family drama that basically comes down to who is having sex with whom. That could be interesting but it doesn't feel as compelling as the sociopolitical issues tackled in Saints & Sinners or Greenleaf.
Christian Keyes (The Man in 3B and Saints & Sinners) stars as Dante Wilson, the Activities Director at First Jamaican Ministries, a church in L.A. He's first seen driving a fancy, red convertible. He steps out the expensive sports car and he's dressed superbly in an even fancier suit. His position apparently affords him lots of money but that point is never addressed. Yes, he's seen giving money to homeless people, but his wealthy status isn't challenged or reconciled. We're just supposed to accept that he's this rich guy whose job it is to coordinate bingo night.
Drew Sidora (Step Up and CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story) co-stars as Tanisha Jones, a girl who lives in the projects, aka the ghetto. She lives with her drug-addicted mother and her sweet, little brother. She's saving money to go to college, but she's doing so by working at a strip club. In typical, rom-com fashion, her being a stripper is a secret that's held as a crutch for the third act after she falls for Dante and meets his church-working family.
Weber's screenplay anchors itself in the relationship with children and their mothers, especially the secrets that they often have to keep or the sacrifices that often have to be made. There is a subplot involving Dante's father, TK Wilson, played by Clifton Powell (Ray and Saints & Sinners). TK Wilson is the bishop who heads the church and who also is running for political office. The secrets of the women in his life threaten to ruin his campaign, but director Trey Haley never makes that subplot feel all that real or have much weight.
Dante's relationship with Tanisha is the center of this movie until it's just tossed away. The relationships between other characters are never developed properly enough to have the audience buy much of any of them.
For example, Dante is also involved with an older, married woman named Anita, played by Kellita Smith (Martin and The Bernie Mac Show). It's obvious why she would want to hook up with Dante. Christian Keyes is "eye candy" so says Essence magazine. In terms of looks and swagger, he has a Shemar Moore-vibe. He's an obvious, sex symbol, so his Dante is equally as sexy, but smooth and charming as Hell. Yes, Anita would obviously be attracted, given that her husband is old and infirm. Yet, it's never established why Dante would hook up with her. It's never established what attracted him to her and why he would allow or participate in Anita's adultery.
Brittany Perry-Russell plays Donna Wilson, the younger sister of Dante who also gets involved with a married man. It's not clear how old she is, so at first there's a question of whether or not her man is guilty of statutory rape, but it seems not to be a factor because no one mentions it. If she is past the age of consent, it seems silly why she would hook up with a married man. One assumes her being the daughter of a pastor has something to do with it. Yet, that point is never addressed either.
Weber's screenplay simply tells us these things happened without fleshing them out. In other words, Weber never delves into the why. Maybe he does so in his novel, but it doesn't translate to the screen. Valarie Pettiford (One Life to Live and Half & Half) plays Charlene Wilson, the mother to Dante and Donna. Her character is all over the place. First, she's really against Dante's relationship with Tanisha, but then she's all for it and it's too quick and wild a swing.
Spoiler alert! Spoiler alert!
The movie then drops a bombshell toward the end. The fallout to which is really glossed over. It's revealed that Dante's father, TK Wilson, is also Tanisha's father. This comes to light after Dante and Tanisha have had sex. Therefore, the two realize they're now guilty of incest.
However, after that realization, Dante and Tanisha never have a scene where they talk to each other. The movie pivots to a church scene about if TK Wilson will continue to be the pastor of the church. Yet, it's odd for the movie to gloss over Dante and Tanisha realizing they're brother and sister and the fact that they've committed incest.
The movie tries to walk it back and make everything okay, but its conclusion, while it says there was no actual incest, isn't a true conclusion to the Dante and Tanisha romance or story, which was the core of the movie. It just ends without the two having said anything to each other.
Jaleel White (Family Matters) is good in his limited role, but the movie could have done without him. Anthony Montgomery (Star Trek: Enterprise and General Hospital) is another, beautiful, black man but he's continuing a trend he started in 2011 with his role in Single Ladies where he played a brutal husband. Whether righteous or not, Montgomery has played men who are just evil toward their wives or girlfriends. As such, he can be the angriest black man who ever angry-black-manned.
Not Rated but contains sexual situations.
Running Time: 1 hr. and 39 mins.
Available on Netflix.