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:: The Fighting Temptations

This is a musical comedy in which ambitious advertising executive Darrin Hill (Cuba Gooding Jr) becomes a beneficiary in his aunt’s will. He stands to inherit $US150,000 from her will providing he leads the church gospel choir (to which his late aunt put much time and energy) to the Gospel Explosion contest.

Darrin has been mischievous in claiming to be the son of a Congressman and to have graduated from Yale University. The claims got him fired when he was starting to make his mark as a creative force on a particular campaign. Consequently, the debt collectors were chasing him. The problem he faced with the choir was to instil some talent. It was a mess. Darrin searches the local neighbourhood and even the jail to find some capable singers. During his talent scouting he falls for single mum Lilly (Beyonce Knowles) who had been forced for the choir because of her “sin”. However, she is the one on which Darrin needs to build a good choir.

It’s a sweet movie with joyful music and a simple, but moving, moral message about staying with your people and following your heart. Slightly weak writing and indifferent directing hamper the overall finished product. A feel-good result is generally more forced than it is uplifting. The music is glorious at times, especially the final number where the ugly-duckling choir goes on to compete for fame and glory at the Gospel Explosion.

Not surprisingly, Beyonce Knowles glows as the face and voice of the choir, although the chemistry between her and Gooding Jr is only fair. Beyonce is certainly believable as a soul, blues singer. Watch her belt out a sexy ‘Fever’ and ‘Swing Low Sweet Chariot’. She needs to do more as an actor, though. Gooding Jr hasn’t chosen his recent films that wisely and, unfortunately, has been involved in some average ones. He probably needs another ‘Boyz ‘n the Hood’ role. He shows good flashes but is often allowed to be too rubber-faced. He loosens up near the end. A couple of good supporting roles are provided: Mike Epps as the “bootyologist” Lucius, and Steve Harvey as the local radio DJ.

The film may have been better enjoyed if director Jonathan Lynn had concentrated more on the music than the one-dimensional, lacklustre characters. But the music brings good energy and a showcase for those participating.