The Fighting Temptations Review
Darrin Hill (Cuba Gooding Jr) is a New York advertising executive who has just lost his job. So his Aunt Sally’s death is just one more thing – except she has left him a large amount of money in her will. There’s only one condition, though, as there always is in a film like this: Darrin has to create a successful gospel choir. So Darrin heads back to his hometown of Monte Carlo, Georgia, and sets to work. He gets nowhere and is about to give up and return to New York when he meets Lilly (Beyoncé Knowles)…
On the positive side, there’s no doubting that Ms Knowles has one hell of a singing voice, and the scenes where she gets to demonstrate this are the few pleasures of The Fighting Temptations. She’s not required to do much else than look good, though. As for the negatives…one rule of thumb is that mainstream comedies are overlong by the amount their running time exceeds 90 minutes. This one comes in at 123 and is certainly no exception. Jonathan Lynn’s writing abilities are not in question – he cowrote Yes, Minister and Yes, Prime Minister – but this is further evidence that he’s a pretty terrible director. Even his films which have worked have been because of a strong script and a cast he hasn’t managed to derail – My Cousin Vinny particularly comes to mind, though even that was far too long. The Fighting Temptations is full of jokes that fall flat and situations that misfire through a simple lack of comic timing. On this evidence, Lynn has no more flair for music either: every time there’s a musical number (and there are several), the film grinds to a halt.
To be fair, this script didn’t help itself either. Gooding tries hard, but can’t get round the fact that his character is fundamentally unsympathetic: a liar and a cheat we’re presumably meant to find roguishly charming. And there’s a running joke about Michael Jackson that’s no doubt a victim of timing but is in pretty dire taste nonetheless. Save yourself two hours of your life and buy the soundtrack album instead.