As I tend to point out for every movie starring him, Cuba Gooding, Jr. has done some pretty bad stuff in the last four years, including Snow Dogs and Boat Trip. It is my believe that he has only ever played one character since he made it big with Jerry Maguire, and that same character shows up in The Fighting Temptations, another one of Gooding's soon-to-be-forgotten-or-help-him-God kind of movies.
What happened to the Gooding that won an Oscar for Jerry Maguire? That received good reviews (though not from me) for Men of Honor? That at least tried to be daring with such films as Instinct and What Dreams May Come? Aside from his small role in the disappointing Pearl Harbor, he has done nothing but fluff this entire millennium - a bunch of goofy romantic comedies and popcorn dramas that automatically reduce his credibility. Fire your agent now, and hire Tom Cruise back, man. You're in an out-of-control spiral and it takes desperate measures to get out of one.
Anyway, The Fighting Temptations is about a sleazy advertising agent who, after lying about everything, is fired. He heads back to his small Southern town for his aunt's funeral and is placed as the leader of a church choir, which hopes to win a big tournament in 6-week's time. He falls in love with his childhood sweetheart, who is played by Beyonce Knowles, but it is quite obvious that at some point his lies are going to come back to haunt him. In every respect, it is a poor rip-off of Sister Act.
The Fighting Temptations has little plot and little character development, but does successfully ride on its collection of quirky supporting characters. Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Beyonce Knowles are nothing to sneeze at - if Knowles becomes Lois Lane in the new Superman movie then God help us all - but there are some funny characters in the choir that make this movie tolerable. Wendell Pierce, as the Reverend, is especially likeable.
The Fighting Temptations is as devious as its lead character, but then again I didn't really like the lead character. The movie actually tricked me into liking it for a little while, even though the screenplay sucks and the music, which is used to cover up holes in the story, is nothing to get excited about. Strangely enough, as the movie rushes through the choir competition (the director obviously realized that audiences were going to get really bored if he didn't do some major edits at the end), the performance done by Gooding's choir - of course called "The Fighting Temptations" - is really not that good. Nonetheless, they win, even though they seem immensely unorganized.
Regardless, The Fighting Temptations does have its moments, but the combination of a really stupid story and unimpressive lead characters/actors does not result in much redeeming value. All it made me want to do is watch Sister Act. Maybe I will do that now...
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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