preachers-kid-movie_web.jpgAs a lover of the arts, I admire and respect originality. I like it when people create something in a way that’s never been done before, and they carve out their own path in the entertainment industry.

Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. But artists take a leap and hope for the best. That said, it’s easy to spot a copy cat, if you will.

If you look closely at Stan Foster’s website, you’ll see a great resemblance to the website created by and starring Tyler Perry.  Right down to a very similar font style, it appears that Foster is trying to make himself the next TP.

According to his website, he’s got his hands in TV, theater and films. Now, I do like that a man of color is trying to get his piece of the entertainment industry pie. I just think he should do it on his own terms and in his own way.

The latest project for Foster (who is responsible for Woman Thou Art Loosed) is Preacher’s Kid. The story is about a young woman, Angie (played by Letoya Luckett), who leaves her father’s house to travel with a gospel play troupe. She wants to become a professional singer. Along the way, she falls in love with the ultimate poser, Devlin (singer Tank).  While on tour with the play, named Daddy Can I Come Back Home (an actual play by Foster and currently touring nationwide), Angie finds that growing up is hard to do.

In the film, written and directed by Foster as well, I saw the parallels between the play and Angie’s storyline: Both are about a girl who leaves her father’s house to make it big in a big city, but fails. Unfortunately, Foster bangs his audience over the head with this parallel.

It’s obvious; we don’t need characters to bring it up. It’s overkill. Speaking of overkill, the irony of the names in this film is annoying.  Angie (short for Angela) is the angel, Devlin represents the devil, and Desiree (Tammy Townsend) is obviously the sexy and desirable femme fatale.

I know Foster is trying to channel Tyler Perry, but he needs to be more subtle.  Subtlety can make this tepid, feel-good film a lot better.  I will give him credit, though, he does do a good job of directing.  But I have to berate him for making Angie too saccharine sweet.  For the duration of the film, I wanted to slap her.

Speaking of Angie, Luckett makes a go at a character who is way too innocent for her age. Luckett is convincing and believable as Angie, but she’s still annoying, in a good way.  Tank’s performance as Devlin is worthy of a few eye rolls. Tank can sing; no doubt about it. But he’s such a weak actor that I now realize why there is only one scene in which he acts in the faux play in the film.

Townsend as Desiree is a great talent.  Her character does a serious 180-degree turn, which is a little disconcerting. No one changes that much in such a short time. But Townsend deserves her role. She is refreshing, even when she’s being a meanie. Another actor who doesn’t get enough screen time is Sharif Atkins as Wynton, a lovelorn, straight choir director/keyboardist. Wynton is a lovesick puppy, but he makes it so sexy that it’s almost a sin. He definitely needs more screen time.

Other actors of note are Ella Joyce as Sister Watkins (her talent has diminished since her days on the hit TV series Roc).  Rae’Ven Larrymore Kelly as Marcia is a little over the top for my taste, but her character is a great friend. Gregory Alan Williams as Bishop King makes the deacon likable and dislikable at the same time.  His tightwad father/preacher character needs to let his grown daughter live her life, but he is accepting when it really counts.

Essence Atkins as Peaches has one really fake Georgia accent and should stick to what she knows.  Her Peaches serves as Angie’s other good friend, but her accent is just as annoying as Angie’s innocence.

Clifton Powell as Ike is Angie’s father away from home. In one scene, he’s trying to give Angie sage advice. In another scene, he’s treating her like trash.  Obviously, Foster named the character Ike to show that he can be a tyrant of a show business producer, like his namesake, Mr. Turner. But Powell also gives him some needed humanity.

All in all, Foster’s film is a good watch. It gives a good look at what really goes on behind the scenes of gospel plays. The actors are not always as holy as they appear on stage.

Also, some of the actors in Preacher’s Kid should stick to their singing careers and leave the acting to the professionals. They know who they are: Tank and Luckett.  While I like Preacher’s Kid, it doesn’t make me itch to see the play version, Daddy Can I Come Back Home.

It’s just not original enough for me.

KAliciaG@Aol.com

For more information on the stage play Daddy Can I Come Back Home, you can check out Stan Foster’s website: www.stanfoster.com.  The play will be in Miami on May 1st & 2nd, 2010.