Dudley, an angel, is sent to New York to answer prayers for help from busy preacher Henry Biggs for whom nothing seems to be going right.
Festive, lightweight fable of faith, hope and good ol' family values. Denzel Washington is the angel - the wings remain metaphorical - Dudley, sent to New York to answer prayers for help from busy preacher Henry Biggs (Vance) for whom nothing seems to be going right. First, Biggs' church is on the point of being demolished by property tycoon Gregory Hines, then in his personal life, son Jeremiah (Justin Pierre Edmund) has lost his best friend Hakim, a teenager is about to be put in prison, and his wife Julia (Houston) feels neglected.
Director Penny Marshall, whose track record for engaging comedy has faltered somewhat since A League Of Their Own (remember the abysmal Renaissance Man?), here continues her lacklustre vein with this tepid remake of the 1947 Cary Grant film The Bishop's Wife. In her third movie role, Houston's acting has improved markedly and while her singing is as impressive as always there is simply no spark with Washington, who - angel or not - falls in love with Julia as he takes her dancing, Christmas shopping and ice-skating.
A dose of cuteness comes in the form of Edmund, and a big helping of sassy mama in Jennifer Lewis, Julia's prying live-in mother. But what tries to be charming and feelgood, at best only manages to showcase the tonsil talents of gospel singing Whitney to little lasting effect.
In theory a lightweight feel-good movie but this fails to engage