It is a shame to say but true nonetheless. The likeable Cuba Gooding Jr. has
become just like the gratingly annoying David Spade. When you see either name
associated with a movie, you can bet that the movie will be bad. THE FIGHTING
TEMPTATIONS comes close to violating that rule. Unlike Gooding's last picture,
BOAT TRIP, his latest does have some nice parts in it. But the good sections
of the story are the gospel music numbers, which the film allows to be sung in
their entirety and which have little to do with Gooding, other than his hamming
it up as a choir director. His performance detracts rather than adds to those
scenes. When the film isn't singing, however, it is a low energy production
that is as flat as a pancake. It's also way too long, filled with needless
characters and trivial subplots.
As Darren, a man who has lied his way through life, Gooding plays a slaphappy
guy who is always one step away from disaster. When we first meet the adult
Darren, he is a junior executive at an advertising agency. His big pitch to a
liquor company is that they should start making money by brewing up malt liquor
to be targeted at African-Americans.
Earlier we watch as Darren and his mother leave a Georgia Baptist church after
his mother is asked to give up singing the devil's -- a.k.a. popular -- music
if she is to continuing singing in the church choir. After the adult Darren is
caught in one of his prevarications and is fired, he goes back to Georgia for
the reading of his great Aunt Sally's will. She leaves him $150,000 in stock
on condition that he lead the small town's rag-tag church choir and that he get
it into the Gospel Explosion contest. In order to do this, Darren recruits
everyone from the local barbershop quartet to some guests of the state
penitentiary. The new singers come with their own small stories to tell, and
none of them are worth hearing.
The only part of the casting that really works is that of singer Beyonc‚
Knowles, last seen as Austin Powers's female sidekick in AUSTIN POWERS IN
GOLDMEMBER. She is a lovely delight with a sweet little smile, irresistible
charms and a voice like honey.
After an awkward attempt at a serious message, the movie ends at the big
competition, where the predictable plot comes to its logical conclusion. What
I've concluded is that Gooding's career has sunk so low that he is no longer
offered decent material. And, if he were, I'm not sure if he would still be up
THE FIGHTING TEMPTATIONS runs about two hours. It is rated PG-13 for "some
sexual references" and would be acceptable for kids around 8 and up.
My son Jeffrey, age 14, gave it **, saying that he liked the musical numbers
but that the movie went on a full half hour too long and had too many subplots.
He thought the comedy was good but that the film needed more of it.
Copyright © 2003 Steve Rhodes