Writer-director Rob Hardy and producer Will Packer trade in the profane for the sacred in this gospel-powered variation on THE JAZZ SINGER, which is in turn nothing more or less than a secular retelling of the Biblical parable of the prodigal son. Minister's son David Taylor (Michael J. Pagan) is a religious teenager blessed with a glorious voice; he intends to follow in the footsteps of his father, charismatic Bishop Taylor (Clifton Powell). David and his best friend, Charles Frank, are as close as brothers; Charles shares David's calling and regards Bishop Taylor as a surrogate father. But David suffers a shattering crisis of faith when his mother dies suddenly while Bishop Taylor is away on church business; they exchange hurtful words and David leaves his native Atlanta filled with anger and righteous resentment. Fifteen years later, David — now "D.T." (and now played by Austrian-born former model Boris Kodjoe) — is well on his way to being a major R&B star with a chart-topping hit called "I Want to Undress You," a suggestive stage show and a wheeling-and-dealing manager named Wesley (Omar Gooding) who's determined to push him to the top. David has surrendered to the drinking, materialism and loose morals of the music business until he gets a call from church lady Miss Ernestine (Aloma Wright) saying that his father is sick. Then he's on the first plane back to Georgia — concert tour, legal troubles (a disgruntled producer is threatening a frivolous but reputation-tainting lawsuit) and 24-carat bling be damned. Bishop Taylor, who has cancer, welcomes David's return. But Charles (Idris Elba), now an ambitious preacher in his own right who has married David's stunning cousin, Charlene (Nona Gaye), isn't so sure. David has sold his soul to Mammon — is there still a place for him in the church Bishop Taylor cofounded, especially with flashier, more business-savvy men of God like the telegenic Reverend Isaac Winston (Leland Jones) siphoning off congregants? Hardy and Packer's Atlanta-based Rainforest Films, which targets African-American audiences, first attracted attention with the steamy TROIS (2000), but this film celebrates the place of the church and, especially, gospel music in black communities. Though unpolished and formulaic, this tribute to the power of faith and music benefits from the contributions of musicians Tamyra Gray, a first-generation American Idol contestant who plays D.T.'s wholesome love interest; Grammy winner Kirk Franklin, who contributed six songs — three original — to the rousing soundtrack; and faith-based singers Yolanda Adams, Martha Munizzi, Fred Hammond (who also executive produced) and Delores Winans.
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- Released: 2005
- Rating: PG
- Review: Writer-director Rob Hardy and producer Will Packer trade in the profane for the sacred in this gospel-powered variation on THE JAZZ SINGER, which is in turn nothing more or less than a secular retelling of the Biblical parable of the prodigal son. Minister… (more)