The Fighting Temptations

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The Fighting Temptations
Review (8/10)
(By Brendan Cullin)

Cuba Gooding Jr. plays Darrin Hill, a New York City advertising executive, whose whole life is an entire lie. He lies to women to sleep with them. That, I could accept, as I often try to pass myself off to women as Roger Ebert. However, he lies to his family, he lies to his friends and he lies to his boss and that is just unacceptable. Everything is a lie and his lying ways are starting to catch up with him when he suddenly he gets some good news. His Aunt Sally from Georgia has passed away (to Darrin, that is good news) and left Darrin with $150,000 in stock options (that is even better news) that he can collect on one condition. He must resurrect the gospel choir at her local church and lead the choir to the Gospel Explosion contest. Along the way, Darrin falls for Lilly (Beyonce Knowles), the girl he promised to marry before he left Georgia twenty years earlier and who is now a single mom and shunned by her entire church-going, hypocritical community.

The Fighting Temptations contains everything that there is to hate about modern-day Hollywood - a wafer-thin plot, an ending that can be seen from miles away, blatantly pathetic product placement, an awful looking movie poster, flat dialogue, boring scenes - folks, this movie has everything that has become almost routine in modern day cinema. But I will give the movie one thing - there are several musical numbers - some gospel, R & B, a barbershop quartet and even some rap - that are inspiring and energetic and even had a cantankerous old fart like myself tapping my foot when all was said and done. Beyonce Knowles can sing like an angel. The musical numbers performed by Darrin's motley crew of misfits make The Fighting Temptations a lot more enjoyable movie than it deserves to be. In fact it is because of these musical numbers that I would recommend at some point seeing this movie. Just don't expect much else from it. And don't expect to see a resurrection of Cuba Gooding Jr.'s career. The Academy Award winner and star of films such as Jerry Maguire and As Good As It Gets has continued his career path towards such classics as Rat Race, Snow Dogs and Boat Trip (okay, I've never seen this movie but just the name of it makes me shudder). It must be worrisome for Gooding because the worry lines on his face stood out to me like none I have seen before (well, except for my former boss). He looks like he has a fifty year-old face on a twenty-five year-old body.

Nevertheless, The Fighting Temptations is a movie I would endorse with a huge asterisk. The story is average at best, the laughs are few and far between and the characters are nothing to write home about (the gospel singing convicts might have been the only characters with any sort of conviction). But the four or five musical montages are fun and should leave you with a smile on your face when all is said and done.

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