Movie Review
The Fighting Temptations
Fighting Temptations poster
By Greg Ward     Published September 20, 2003
US Release: September 19, 2003

Directed by: Jonathan Lynn
Starring: Cuba Gooding Jr. , Beyoncé Knowles , Wanda Williams , Mike Epps

Running Time: 123 minutes
Domestic Box Office: $30,239,000
An entertaining film with great music
A movie like "The Fighting Temptations" is not destined to win any awards or to be placed on an all-time greatest movies list.

Its basic purpose is to provide two hours of fun and music, and do you want to know something? It does just that.
Cuba Gooding, Jr. plays Darrin Hill, an advertising executive from New York who has just been fired from his job. He hears of the death of his Aunt Sally, who he was very close to in his childhood. He goes back to his childhood home for the funeral and also to collect what has been given to him from Aunt Sally?s will. He is thrilled to discover that he has inherited a huge load of money. There?s only one catch: He has to lead the church choir to victory at a National Gospel Choir Competition.

The choir that exists when he arrives is very poor, possessing a small amount of people who are not very good. It is then that he turns to Lilly (Beyonce Knowles), a childhood flame who has a beautiful voice. At first, she turns down the offer, considering that she is shunned by some at the church. Eventually, she comes to the rescue, helping to turn the choir around, along with some new members (including a few prisoners).

The premise to this film is nothing new. Sure, we?ve seen similar stories like this with the likes of "Sister Act" and "Sweet Home Alabama," but this story feels fresh. The sharp writing by Elizabeth Hunter and Saladin K. Patterson provides many moments where I found myself laughing out loud.

There is a part in the film where, during Aunt Sally?s funeral, Darrin?s cell phone rings. The Preacher says, "If that ain?t Jesus calling, you better shut that off." Darrin proceeds with the call, only to realize that the congregation hasn?t proceeded with the service. Instead, they focus on him, and Darrin makes up an excuse to make it seem as if he?s just showing how sad he is about Aunt Sally?s death.

The performances in this film are decent, yet nothing special. Ever since winning the Oscar for "Jerry Maguire," Cuba Gooding, Jr. has never really done anything that has topped it. Instead, he has done comedies that either flopped or did somewhat well and were ultimately forgotten. In "Temptations," he does a pretty good job with the character of Darrin Hill ? while his performance is nothing truly special, he shows that he can play along with the humor and can carry a comedic performance. Let?s hope that his performance in the upcoming "Radio" is as good as it appears to be from the trailer.

Beyonce Knowles, on the other hand, isn?t too bad. While her performance isn?t Oscar-caliber, she has a certain presence in every scene she?s in; her voice is amazing, and the way she moves is sensational. The first time we hear her sing, she does a rendition of "Fever," which is truly electrifying because of the way she moves and how she has the audience in the palm of her hand. Maybe I?m being a little partial towards her because I am a fan of her music, but I think her performance is enjoyable and I hope to see her in more films in the future.

"The Fighting Temptations" is not a film that will be considered a modern-day masterpiece in the future. I?ll admit that a lot of the film works because of the music ? I found myself tapping my feet to the music and really admiring how beautiful Knowles?s voice truly is. If you?re looking for an entertaining film with great music and a cute premise, "Fighting Temptations" is the film for you.
Greg's Grade: B
Greg's Overall Grading: 25 graded movies
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