Reviewed by: Chris Monroe
Starring: Cuba Gooding Jr., Beyoncé Knowles, Mike Epps, Faith Evans, Steve Harvey | Directed by: Jonathan Lynn | Produced by: David Gale, Jeff Pollack, Jeff Polstein, Jay Polstein, Loretha Jones | Written by: Rick Famuyiwa, David Raynr, Elizabeth Hunter | Distributor: Paramount Pictures and MTV Films
Webster defines the word “edify” as follows: “to instruct or benefit, especially morally or spiritually; uplift; enlighten.” There is a high risk that if you decide to see the film “The Fighting Temptations” you will be encouraged, exhorted, uplifted and, of course, edified when it is over.
The hook of the story comes when big city aspiring advertising executive, Darrin Hill (Academy Award winner Cuba Gooding Jr., Jerry Maguire, Men of Honor, Pearl Harbor, Rat Race) simultaneously loses his job and receives an invitation to his aunt’s funeral in a small Georgia town. There he finds out that in order to receive the inheritance he must fulfill his aunt’s dying wish: take over his aunt’s dismal church Gospel choir and lead them to success.
Having left the church years ago and not having a scrap of musical experience, Darrin insists he should fulfill her wish, but is motivated solely by the money.
There are some striking biblical lessons and analogies woven throughout the film. The idea of “weak” or “foolish” things of the world being used to confound the wise is apparent when local prison inmates get involved and join the church choir. Along those lines, the film promotes the unconditional love of God and how He loves and accepts us no matter where we are in life.
Another facet is the promotion of abstinence imbedded in the romantic interest between Darrin and Lilly (Beyoncé Knowles of the hip-hop musical trio Destiny’s Child). Their choice to abstain is played out and results in a fruitful reward. Finally—and openly acknowledged by the screenwriters Elizabeth Hunter and Saladin K. Patterson—is the analogy of the prodigal son.
Interestingly enough, one of the main backers for the film is MTV. While there are a lot of aspects to their programming that some appall, this film is not one of them. The music is soul-stirring and energetic and one cannot help but be moved by it. At times the plot and dialogue clunk along, but much is forgiven by the heart and passion driving this commercial entertainment.
While there is no profanity or sex in the film, there are a couple of scenes that viewers may find objectionable. One scene involves a somewhat bawdy performance of a song entitled “Fever.” The other potentially uncomfortable scene is an exchange of dialogue about the observance of women. While presented in humorous fashion, it can be taken as degrading to women. However, overall, the film is not promoting this attitude; it is establishing one of the characters as a “sinner.”
Violence: Minor | Crude or profanity language: (4 h*lls, 2 d*mns, at least 2 s-words, 4 a**, and 1 “Oh my G*d.”) | Sex/Nudity: Mild (for a PG-13)
Read our our INTERVIEWS with the cast/crew of this film.