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.
"TASTY MUSICAL NUMBERS"
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!