The Fighting Temptations (PG)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner25/11/2003


Two out of Five stars
Running time: 123 mins

Gooding is occasionally pretty bad and the film is both cliché-laden and far too long, but there are several laugh-out-loud lines and it’s worth seeing just to see Beyoncé perform ‘Fever’.

The Fighting Temptations is the sort of movie that, ten years ago, would have been a vehicle for Whoopie Goldberg - in fact, you spend most of the movie just wondering whether or not she’s going to show up in a cameo. Sadly, she doesn’t and the film would be all but unwatchable if it weren’t for a script that is funnier than the movie deserves and a scorching performance by Beyoncé Knowles.

Lying Ad Exec Fired…

Cuba Gooding Jnr (no, wait, come back, etc) plays Darrin Hill, a New York advertising executive who gets fired from his prestigious job when it emerges that he dropped out of university and faked his credentials – his claim that he’s in advertising and that lying is his job falls on deaf ears. With debt collectors chasing him all over town, he receives a letter from a lawyer in the small town of Montecarlo in Georgia, informing him that his aunt Sally has died. Travelling to Montecarlo, he discovers that his aunt’s dying wish was for him to lead the local Gospel choir to victory in the annual Gospel Explosion: if he succeeds, he’ll inherit shares worth $150,000.

There are, of course, the usual obstacles in his way, not least in the shape of Paulina Pritchett (LaTanya Richardson), who covets the job of choir leader and tries to dissuade Darrin from his task. However, there are also incentives, such as sultry jazz singer Lily (Beyoncé Knowles), Darrin’s childhood almost-sweetheart. No prizes, then, for guessing how it all ends…

Colourful Supporting Cast

The performances are pretty good, with the colourful supporting cast making up for Gooding’s constant mugging and double-taking. Particularly amusing are Montell Jordan as a squeaky-voiced felon (a gag stolen from better films, but it still works); Wendell Pierce as Paulina’s put-upon reverend brother; Steve Harvey as the wise-cracking DJ and Rue McClanahan (from The Golden Girls), who gets perhaps the biggest laugh in the film. The choir also features a host of Gospel, hip-hop and rap stars (such as Faith Evans and T-Bone), though most of them will be less known in the UK.

And, of course, there’s Beyoncé. Just as the script is better than the film deserves, so too is Beyoncé’s performance – particularly her jaw-droppingly sexy rendition of ‘Fever’. Frankly, the film goes downhill from that point. She’s also far too good for Gooding (who is, for the most part of the film, a lying, conniving git) and there’s precious little chemistry between them as a result.

The other main problem with the film is that it isn’t snappy enough. A lot of the jokes are laboured or repeated to the point of tedium – if someone had shaved a judicious 30 minutes or so off the two hour running time, the film might have stood a better chance. Also, it has to be said, if you’re not a fan of Gospel music, the odds that you’ll enjoy the film are slim at best.

In short, though this is worth seeing for Beyoncé’s performance and contains a few laughs (usually courtesy of cruel one-liners) that the film itself doesn’t really earn, it’s ultimately a cliché-ridden affair that somehow fails to really shine.

Film Trailer

The Fighting Temptations (PG)
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Content updated: 24/03/2019 17:00

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