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The Fighting Temptations
2003 - PG-13 - 123 Mins.
Director: Jonathan Lynn
Producer: David Gale, Loretha C. Jones, Benny Medina, Jeff Pollack
Written By: Elizabeth Hunter and Saladin K. Patterson
Starring: Cuba Gooding Jr., Beyonce Knowles, Steve Harvey, Faith Evans
Review by: Joe Rickey
Cuba Gooding Jr. has been on a downward spiral ever since winning an Academy Award for Jerry Maguire. From the comedic road trip film Rat Race, the Disney kid-aimed Snow Dogs, to the lame excuse for a comedy in Boat Trip he has yet to appear in a film since Maguire that has received positive press. Now he appears in the musical romantic comedy costarring Beyonce Knowles and directed by Jonathan Lynn that tells the story of a big city ad executive who is forced to take over his hometown church choir in order to claim on his inheritance. What results from this setup is a stale combination of musical numbers and broad comedy that fails to take advantage of a perfect opportunity to satirize the advertising industry and contains too many examples of stereotypes to count.

The character played by Gooding Jr. is a complete jerk. That is by far the biggest problem with The Fighting Temptations. His character is a compulsive liar who has been fired by multiple ad agencies for just that reason. He keeps on lying in order to cover up for mistakes that would be better solved through honesty. Yet, he is unable to be a completely honest person at the start of the film. He also won’t have any of going back to his hometown until he hears of the inheritance. You see, he and his mother were forced to leave the town because of the condescending way they were treated by neighbors and citizens of the town in general. He dreads going back home but since has just lost his job he really doesn’t have any other choices because he needs the money.

Once back home he reconvenes with the citizens of the town that includes a wild and crazy radio DJ (Steve Harvey) among others. He then sets out to get a choir together as quickly as possible at first. Along the way he meets up with a childhood friend (Beyonce Knowles) who just so happens to have turned into a great singer. All of these developments are developed in a predictable fashion. It is evident from the start that someone is going to enter the picture and try and ruin the fun by exposing the inheritance and its stipulations. Once this is known, the rest of the film has to rely on how it presents the material rather than what is going to happen.

The film includes many broad jokes that aren’t imaginative enough to be all that successful. How many more films will there be that make light of Southern stereotypes?

The performances are simply standard fare for this type of film. Cuba Gooding Jr. is basically playing the same manic character that he has played often as of late. Beyonce Knowles is sub par as his love interest because she lacks enough comfort on screen unless she is singing. The supporting actors actually make more out of their thinly written roles than the leads do out of their more fleshed-out personas.

By far the best part of the film is the lively musical numbers, which feature great vocals and catchy songs.

Nevertheless, The Fighting Temptations never rises above mediocrity because of its predictability and despite the inclusion of multiple enjoyable musical sequences.

Movie Guru Rating
Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better. Disappointing.  Had the right ingredients and should have been better.
  2 out of 5 stars

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