Movies that are “so bad, they’re good” are one of life’s unsung treasures. And like anything, adding blackness to that principle is like adding proper seasoning. Thus, I introduce you to our new series reviewing/recapping bad black movies, Negro Noir. As our queen-in-chief Danielle Belton pointed out, it’s so black, the title of the series is essentially “black black” in two different languages. I watch these so you don’t have to. But you should.
Confession: Choosing which movie to start with brought a lot of pressure. Do I start with greats, such as the Trois trilogy or State Property? Or perhaps a Tyler Perry gem? Too much! So, I decided to play it safe and go with any movie starring the iconic Clifton Powell. Narrowing down that list was another challenge, so I decided to go with the most recent one I’d seen with my just-as-ignant village of friends. But don’t worry, those aforementioned “greats” are coming down the line.
First up— The Preacher’s Son.
A short synopsis via IMDb, reads as follows:
Bishop T.K. Wilson (Powell), his wife & two children are a respectable family in their community - Yet the Wilson kids are fighting temptations & their son Dante (Christian Keyes) has thoughts other than taking over his father’s church.
The film also stars Valarie Pettiford (as Dante’s mother, First Lady Charlene Wilson), Drew Sidora (as Tanisha, Dante’s love interest), Vanessa Bell Calloway (as Tanisha’s mother, Elena), Kellita Smith (as Dante’s ex, Anita Emerson), Brittany Perry-Russell (as Dante’s sister, Donna Wilson), Jaleel White (as James Black, the church philanderer), Kareem J. Grimes (as Dante’s best friend, Shorty), Anthony Montgomery (as Rev. Reynolds, who covets the Bishop’s seat), and James Black (as Anita’s husband, Deacon Emerson).
Wait, there’s a real-life James Black?! This is already confusing.
To kick things off, the title credits are a Powerpoint presentation. We meet Dante, who is such a model protagonist, we see him driving around in his luxury car waving at residents (in particular, a little black boy who wants to be just like him!) and even giving homeless white folks food. What a standup guy!
But—*record scratch*—Mr. Perfection has flaws, after all. He’s having an affair with femme fatale Anita, the wife of Deacon Emerson. What’s more? The deacon happens to be in a wheelchair. Nothing like a little ableism to rationalize infidelity!
We’re then introduced to proud philanderer James, who unapologetically treats the congregation like sex buffet. He is a holy ho. Then, there’s Reverend Reynolds, who is the most celebrated choice as next-in-line to take the place of the Bishop whenever he retires. Naturally, though, Bishop wants his own flesh-and-blood to follow in his footsteps. (Keep this in mind, because more on that later ... much later.)
Enter Tanisha, a secret stripper who fancies Red Lobster and poetry. Dante pays for her stuff at the convenience store, which is a convenient meet—cute. They share some banter before we learn of her mother Elena, who is in the throes of the dreaded crack cocaine.
Dante promises those neverending shrimps Tanisha covets, but he has a conflict of interest—he has to host Bingo Night at the church. However, Tanisha ain’t buying it. At the behest of her good friend Natasha (Laila Odom), she decides to head to the church to prove this nigga ain’t lying, once and for all. Lo and behold, he’s spending the night calling out numbers and wins over Tanisha, who also meets Anita. The cougar quickly makes it quite obvious she’s bumping uglies with Dante and sees Tanisha as a young threat.
Finally, the first date happens! After experiencing a montage of Tanisha trying on fits straight out of a Rainbow shop, we join the new lovebirds at a restaurant that’s not Red Lobster, but fancier—Dante admittedly owes her for the prior missed date. Then, they walk on the beach at sunset and he finally says it:
“I usually don’t say this on the first date, but ... I’m feelin’ you.” *swoon*
But before we forget, let’s get to Dante’s sister Donna and her sea of struggles. First off, Dante’s best friend, Shorty, is in love with her and displays his love via typical street harassment romance. But Donna has her heart set on someone else—someone she shouldn’t be involved with. That someone’s face is hidden until the third act, serving as a redirect that leads the audience to believe it’s the saintly slut, James.
Once Donna realizes she’s pregnant (out of wedlock! gasp!), the Wilson parentals demand she gets married to the (still unknown) father or gets an abortion. After visiting the abortion clinic, she hops into bed with Shorty, who then asks her to marry him. It really happens that quickly. Donna only agrees to marry the overly persistent twit after she sees Rev. Reynolds is getting married, at which point she falsely reveals Shorty is the father of her child. (Ahh ... it’s tit-for-tat because Rev. Reynolds is the other half in her affair!) By the way, she doesn’t end up getting the abortion, but there’s a miscarriage scare, complete with a trite blood-in-the-shower shot. *rubs temples*
Speaking of the Wilsons as parents, First Lady Wilson is incredibly rude to Tanisha when Dante brings her home for dinner to meet them (biggest step within the shortest time ever!) Things go especially overboard once it’s revealed that Dante wants to become a lawyer instead of leading the church, a dream profession only supported by a solitary scene featuring Dante (far too easily) preventing Tanisha’s little brother from entering the foster system after her mother gets arrested for drug possession.
Also, at some random point in the film, Bishop Wilson reveals he’s running for Congress, and it’s never mentioned again until toward the end of the film.
Which brings me to—
Finally—and I kid you not—the climax and major plot points are revealed within the last 15 minutes. I swear, I paused the film so I could note the duration. Dante and Tanisha are suddenly getting married, officiated by Rev. Reynolds. Just when you think Anita is about to “speak now” to stop the wedding instead of forever holding her peace, Elena stands and yells to Tanisha, “You can’t marry Dante! That’s your father!” pointing to Bishop Wilson.
Jigga what?! Dante and Tanisha fucked on the couch so that Cersei and Jaime Lannister could fuck all over the Seven Kingdoms. This leads to the congregation accusing the bishop of adultery and holding a whole trial to determine whether he should hold his post. His opponent, Rev. Reynolds, can’t stand on his high horse either because Donna finally reveals he’s the biological father of her unborn child and Shorty simply stepped up as the substitute father ... like a real man.
But, wait there’s more! A contrived plot twist! Dante and Tanisha aren’t really siblings because Bishop Wilson isn’t really Dante’s dad! He took him in after reviving crack fiend mama First Lady Wilson. More confessions! All of these revelations, with so little time to reconcile with them. Seriously, there’s no denouement. Everything just implodes, and then, next thing you know, everyone is hugging it out. Fade out. I swear I’m not making this up.
The Preacher’s Son is now available on Netflix. If you’ve already seen it, join me in the comments because these types of movies are a social experience. If you haven’t—same ideology applies. Gather a bunch of your friends and watch this lovely mess.