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The Fighting Temptations

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: The Fighting Temptations

Starring: Cuba Gooding Jr., Beyonce Knowles
Director: Jonathan Lynn
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 123 Minutes
Release Date: September 2003
Genres: Comedy, Music

*Also starring: Mike Epps, Faith Evans, Steve Harvey, Wilbur Fitzgerald, Lourdes Benedicto, Melba Moore, Ann Nesby, Chloe Bailey, Nigel Washington, Richie Dye

Review by Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

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 to it.

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

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