Reviewer's Rating 3 out of 5  
The Fighting Temptations (2003)
PGContains mild language, sex and drug references

God has all the best tunes in this upbeat musical comedy where anything goes - as long as it praises Jesus. Cuba Gooding Jr plays Darrin Hill, a New York ad exec down on his luck who returns to his home town in Georgia to claim a $150,000 inheritance left by his aunt Sally. Naturally, there's a catch. Before he can collect, he must create a gospel choir and lead it to triumph in the Gospel Explosion singing competition.

Not the easiest way to make a buck perhaps, but Darrin gamely sets out to make the old dear's dream come true - with a little help from local torch singer Lilly (Beyoncé Knowles), a literal barbershop quartet (R&B group The O'Jays) and some melodious convicts drawn from a nearby prison.


The outcome is never much in doubt, but along the way British director Jonathan Lynn (Nuns On The Run, My Cousin Vinny) couples some tasty musical numbers - Beyoncé's sizzling rendition of Fever, a dazzling hip-hop solo from rapper T-Bone - with a generous serving of fish-out-of-water humour. ("I'm in the frickin' Twilight Zone!" mutters Cuba as he surveys a town with only one taxi, a polluted river and - the horror! - no mobile phone reception.)

Cuba doesn't sing himself, but brings such irrepressible physicality to his role he's almost exhausting to watch. At least he exerts himself: she may have a lovely set of pipes, but Beyoncé's acting style is so passive as to be virtually nonexistent. (Her romantic scenes with Gooding Jr have all the heat of a day-old pizza.)

Not that it matters though. The Fighting Temptations is all about the music, and you'd have to be truly tone-deaf not to respond to its soaring harmonies and spirited spirituality. Hallelujah!

End Credits

Director: Jonathan Lynn

Writer: Elizabeth Hunter, Saladin K Patterson

Stars: Cuba Gooding Jr, Beyoncé Knowles, Mike Epps, Steve Harvey, LaTanya Richardson, Rue McClanahan

Genre: Comedy, Musical

Length: 123 minutes

Cinema: 12 December 2003

Country: USA

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