Movie and plot overview
Henry Biggs is a Baptist pastor of the New York Baptist Church, which is dominated by the African-American Church. Henry is obsessed with many of the problems of the church and loses sight of what is really important, namely his family. After praying for God’s guidance, a mysterious man named Dudley appears and tells Henry that he is the answer to his prayers. The charismatic Dudley soon starts to help everyone he meets, but not necessarily in the way they want. But when Dudley’s presence begins to threaten Henry’s marriage to the beautiful Julia, Henry remembers what’s really important.
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Best Henry Biggs (Courtney B. Vance) is a newly appointed pastor in the predominantly African-American Baptist Church in New York City. Henry’s attention is constantly turned in hundreds of different directions and the church is struggling financially. Henry is under pressure from developer Joe Hamilton (Gregory Hines), who wants Henry to sell the church building so Joe can build expensive new skyscrapers. Henry is a workaholic and neglects his wife Julia (Whitney Houston) and his youngest son Jeremiah (Justin Pierre Edmund). Julia begins to wonder if her marriage will survive Henry’s troubles. Worse, Henry begins to doubt his faith in God.
Henry prays desperately for God to help him overcome his problems. An angel named Dudley (Denzel Washington) answers his prayers. Dudley is extremely witty and charming, and only Henry reveals his identity. After meeting Dudley, Julia finds the angel charming, although she does not know his divine lineage. Henry remains a suspect of Dudley. As Christmas approaches, Henry thinks he has less time for his family, but Dudley is always willing to spend time with Julia and Jeremiah. Henry’s suspicions about Dudley are complemented by secretary Henry Beverly (Loretta Devine), who believes that Dudley is dedicated to his work, and mother Julia Margarita (Jennifer Lewis), who believes that an angel can destroy her daughter’s marriage.
At one point Henry is facing Dudley almost all the time, and the angel realizes that he is beginning to fall in love with Julia. As a result, Dudley starts focusing on Joe to confuse the developer’s plans for church property. At the same time, Henry learns that his family is most important to him and swears to be a better husband and father to Julia and Jeremiah. In the Christmas game Henry regains his faith in God.
With the restoration of Henry’s faith, Dudley’s work on earth is complete. Dudley helps the Biggs family for the last time by decorating their Christmas tree in seconds. Before he leaves, Dudley erased all memories of him. Dudley attends Christmas Eve Mass, but is not recognized by everyone except Jeremiah. Because the boy still has the faith of the child, he remembers Dudley and wishes the angel a merry Christmas.
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