With its modern-day Prodigal Son story line, soundtrack produced by Kirk Franklin, and performances and cameos by church-circuit power players such as Donnie McClurkin, Hezekiah Walker and Yolanda Adams, The Gospel has all the makings to be a wonderful drama about life in the church. But somewhere between its Saturday night drama and Sunday morning sanctification, it falls short of glory.
The plot follows David Taylor (Boris Kodjoe) who is the estranged son of Pastor Fred Taylor (Clifton Powell). David grew up and learned how to sing in the church, but when his father fails to be at his mother’s death bed because he is handling church business, David leaves his father and Atlanta’s New Revelations church. He surfaces fifteen years later as a LA heartthrob singing chart-topping songs like "Let Me Undress You," and bumping and grinding with groupies in music videos.
When he gets a call that his father’s health is ailing, he returns to Atlanta only to find that the church has fallen on financial hard times and that his child-hood friend turned rival, young reverend Charles Frank (Idris Elba), is preparing to take over the church. Charles’ vision for a more modern New Revelations church is not what David thinks his father would want for the congregation. The long-time church secretary Ernestine (Aloma Wright) thinks that David should enter the pulpit and continue his father’s legacy, but will David abandon his concert tour to come back to deal with the church politics of his Father’s house?
Director Rob Hardy weaves the cast though several cliche situations, but although there are very few surprises, the plot is decent enough. Sure, the cinematography and acting left something to be desired, but minus Kodjoe’s hardly believable eye-squinting lip-syncing, the music is phenomenal. Anyone who’s ever set foot in an African-American church will recognize the authenticity in which the church setting is portrayed.
Bottom Line: If you’re looking for a blockbuster, save your money on this one. You won’t be disappointed if you wait for the DVD. But if you’re moved by music you might find The Gospel satisfying. The soul-inspiring performances by renowned gospel singers resurrect this fairly dead film.