Avoid tired 'temptation'
Gospel truth: Gooding couldn't save this script
"The Fighting Temptations" is a typical romantic comedy, with a plot focused on gospel music. The majority of this rather lengthy movie is spent, for better or worse, listening to the entire cast sing over and over again. The film focuses on the coming together of a community and on an unfortunately dry love story. At times, the film actually succeeds at being humorous, but generally it lacks anything fresh.
Jonathan Lynn directs a fairly unknown cast led by Cuba Gooding, Jr. as Darrin, a New York advertising executive who has lost his job. Darrin travels to his hometown in Georgia to claim his aunt's inheritance, where he discovers it's her dying wish for him to create a gospel choir and lead it to success. Along the way, Darrin meets Lilly (Beyonc? Knowles) and sparks fly.
Lynn attempts to paint the picture of the stereotypical Southern community, filled with diverse opinions and characters, but he fails to use creativity in meeting this goal. The movie has very banal characters: the town whore (Knowles), the man in need of finding himself (Gooding, Jr.) and the town critic (LaTanya Richardson). Faith Evans also has a minor role in the beginning of the movie as Darrin's mother, but while her role is refreshing, it parallels Knowles' character too closely.
Knowles unfortunately proves that she is incapable of acting in a movie without singing. After her debut in "Austin Powers in Goldmember" Knowles set herself to become another crossover artist. Instead of branching out and taking new projects, she has fallen into a comfortable role as a singer. Her acting is extremely forced and she appears only to be comfortable in the scenes where she sings.
Gooding, Jr. also falls flat in this film as he cannot delve into the character because there is nothing unique about Darrin. He is a stereotypical New York liar who will inevitably find his life's dream by returning to his hometown.
The movie's length and writing don't work either. While Lynn successfully directed a very large cast, the screenwriters composed a dull and long script that even Lynn could not save. The big production numbers of the movie are completely unnecessary and could have been cut without losing any plot development.
Perhaps the most ridiculous part of the movie is the incorporation of rap and hip-hop music. Lynn fails to unite these forms of music, and instead develops a laughable attempt to create a gospel choir with a more modern flair.
Another unnecessary part of the film was the introduction of unknown singers to take part in the reformation of the gospel choir. However, a positive aspect was the movie's few talented minor roles. Rev. Lewis, played by Wendell Pierce, accurately portrays the soft-spoken yet frustrated minister who just needs to let loose. In addition, the town has a highly animated and constantly intoxicated radio D.J. (Steve Harvey). Harvey's subtle humor brings a fresh bounce to the film.
With such a large cast it is difficult to establish any real characterization, although the minor characters do have merit. Despite mildly entertaining moments, viewers would be better off fighting the temptation to see this film.