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The Fighting Temptations (2003)

Don’t fight the feeling

Directed by:

Jonathan Lynn

Rating: 5/10

Running Time: 123 minutes

UK Certificate: PG

Country: United States

It’s tough to pinpoint exactly where and when Cuba Gooding Jr. became so astonishingly rubbish. Some might say ‘Boat Trip’, others ‘Snow Dogs’. I’m more of a Rat Race man myself, but each to their own.

What saves his latest attempt from matching those afore-mentioned flicks in the turkey stakes is a fantastic up-tempo Gospel soundtrack, nudged along on its way by the presence of guaranteed seat-filler Beyonce Knowles. In fact, were it not for those two crucial ingredients, it’s fair to say ‘The Fighting Temptations’ would be one of the worst films of the year.

The film sees Gooding transfer his irritating googly-eyed jumpiness to the part of Darrin Hill. He’s a truth-bending NY advertising exec who returns to his backward Alabama hometown to attend the funeral of a deceased rellie, only to find he’s been left $150,000-worth of stock in the will. The catch is, he won’t be “shown the money” unless he agrees to lead the local church choir to the customary end-of-movie competition. So he does.

It’s a good job the music is so enjoyable, because otherwise this poorly-written comedy’s two-hour running time would be practically unbearable. Laughs are few and far between, and the dialogue between the lead players is about as stale as it gets. The fact that Gooding is so completely outshone by Beyonce, hardly the most gifted actress of her time, just goes to show how far he’s fallen since his deserved Oscar victory for ‘Jerry Maguire’ back in 1996.

The bootylicious one, meanwhile, never looks uncomfortable in her fairly limited role as the single mother shunned by the church for her ungodly ways. Of course, she’s in the movie largely for her singing talents, and it’s an area in which she never disappoints. And she’s certainly easier on the eye than her perma-staring co-star.

It's Got: A string of bit-part players from the music biz, including Angie Stone, Mary Mary, Faith Evans, and a high-talkin’ Montell Jordan.

It Needs: A dose of sedatives for the horrendously over-acting lead male.

Alternatives:

Sister Act, Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit

Summary

Great as a musical, awful as a comedy. You’d be as well just buying the soundtrack.

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