The Fighting Temptations is a great film … for a family with a screaming eight-year-old or someone on a date with a nun. The film has humor to entertain kids and religious songs for young and old alike. However, poor acting and massive amounts of gospel singing make for the longest movie since Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments.
Under the direction of Jonathan Lynn, Cuba Gooding Jr. plays Darrin Hill, whose Aunt Sally (Ann Nesby) believes he is a successful executive in New York City.
Darrin is fired from his job at an advertising firm after it’s discovered that his diploma from Yale is a fake. He is also deeply in debt.
Cuba’s character returns to his hometown of Montecarlo, G.A., to attend his aunt’s funeral and claim his inheritance by leading her old choir to an annual gospel contest.
At first Darrin declines, then he realizes that if they win he’ll be able to claim $150,000 of stocks and bail himself out of debt. Darrin transforms the off-key group into an impressive choir by recruiting a mix of convicts, barbers, drunks and sinners to help him set off a gospel explosion.
This odd-squad is led by the perfect single mother, Lilly (BeyoncÃ© Knowles). Soon the choir becomes aware of Darrin’s deceptions when Paulina Pritchet (LaTanya Richardson) reveals that he was fired from his job and he is only in it for the money.
Darrin is forced to face the truth and admit his life of lies.
Thankfully, Gooding does not sing a single line in the movie. His acting does not compare with his celebrated role in Jerry Maguire, except for the amount of energy he conveys when the choir sings.
The well-known supporting cast steals the show in this film. Mike Epps (Next Friday) plays Lucius, the comic relief with hilarious one-liners like: “Booty is in the eye of the beholder.” Also, Wendell Pierce (Bullworth) is an excellent choice to play Rev. Paul Lewis. Pierce’s demeanor and slight sarcasm during his interaction with other characters is perfect for the part.
Steve Harvey’s portrayal of the town’s chain-smoking alcoholic, Miles the DJ, adds even more in the way of comic relief.
The plot of The Fighting Temptations is not the strongest, but the singing is nothing short of impressive.
Vocal talents include Montell Jordan, Faith Evans, Yolanda Adams, T-Bone, Zane and Shirley Caesar.
The first time the audience hears Knowles sing, her voice sounds superb as she moves around seductively in a nightclub singing “Fever” to Gooding.
The Fighting Temptations has a lot of singing, a few drawn out scenes, and too many kisses between Knowles and Gooding.
While Knowles may not be the best actress, The Fighting Temptations is worth seeing just for her singing.