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Cass' review of
The Fighting Temptations


The Fighting Temptations (2003)
Rated PG-13; running time 123 minutes
Genre: Comedy
Written by: Elizabeth Hunter and Saladin K. Patterson
Directed by: Jonathan Lynn
Cast: Cuba Gooding Jr., Beyonce Knowles, LaTanya Richardson, Wendell Pierce, Mike Epps, Steve Harvey, Lourdes Benedicto, T-Bone, The O’Jays, Montell Jordon, Faith Evans, Melba Moore, Rev. Shirley Caesar, Angie Stone, Ann Nesby, LaTanya Washington, Rue McClanahan, Faizon Love, Rosalie Ashton-Washington, The Blind Boys of Alabama

Review Copyright Cassandra Henry, 2003

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"Experience has taught me that fighting temptation makes you strong." -- Lilly

CASS' CLIP (WARNING: **spoilers below**)
The year is 1980, and the place where the supposed sin is committed is at Beulah Baptist Church in Montecarlo, GA. According to the church's bylaws, which are adamantly executed by the church's treasurer, Paulina Pritchett (Latanya Richardson), Maryann Hill (Faith Evans) has committed the sin of singing secular music while being a choir member. Rather than put an end to the mess stirred up by his busy body sister, Paulina, Reverend Lewis (Wendell Pierce) cowers before her and wimps out. Maryann resolves not to be bullied by this sanctimonious prude and chooses her secular singing career over her choir membership when put on the hot seat. She takes a leap of faith and follows her dream all the way to Chicago. She and her young son, Darrin (Cuba Gooding Jr.), leave not only Montecarlo, but they also leave behind their beloved Aunt Sally Walker (Ann Nesby).

Fast-forward to the present. Darrin is an advertising executive (a/k/a pathological liar) for a New York firm whose fictitious life is about to catch up with his real life. When Darrin's employer discovers the truth about him and the bill collectors close in, fate steps in. Darrin's poor Aunt Sally dies, and now he must return home to attend her funeral, and be present for the reading of her will. Darrin stands to inherit $150,000, IF HE, can direct and get the Beulah Baptist Church choir into the annual Gospel Explosion contest. Darrin is up to the challenge, for obvious reasons, but it will be a cold day in Hell before Paulina willingly helps him because she wants to be the choir director.

Darrin uses his con-man approach to recruit members to join the choir. The barbershop group (the O'Jays), three inmates from the local prison, and his childhood sweetheart and ex-choir member turned sultry nightclub singer, Lily (Beyonce Knowles), all join the choir. However, the friction between Lily and Paulina is reminiscent of the feud Paulina had twenty years earlier with Darrin's mother. [The same single mother, secular music thang].

Will history repeat itself or will God settle the score? Will someone finally give Paulina a backhand slap with the truth about her own life? Will Darrin and Lilly hookup? Will the Beulah Baptist Church choir win the Gospel Explosion competition?

DA 411
Okay, the plot is unoriginal. [See Sister Act]. But The Fighting Temptations delivers a gospel good time to all those souls willing to let the spirit hit their funny bone.

With the memories of Snow Dogs and Boat Trip behind us, let us bow our heads and thank Gawd for finally finding a movie to showcase the talents of our brother, Cuba Gooding Jr. I enjoyed him in this role because it didn't feel like he was acting and he looked like he had a good time playing this character. Beyonce Knowles is definitely not an actress, but she turns in a decent performance as the outcast choir member with a sultry voice and southern "booty", I mean southern beauty.

I do, however, give all props to Ms. Knowles for her rendition of Peggy Lee's "Fever," because it was red hot. LaTanya Richardson was excellent as the church's treasurer, Paulina Pritchett. Gurlfriend knew she got on everybody's last nerve with her "Better than Thou" attitude. I'd like to give a special shout out to New Orleans native, Wendell Pierce, who plays Rev. Lewis. [I love watching my old neighbor act like a fool. I know his folks are so proud of him]. And what can be said about Mike Epps and Steve Harvey. You just have to see them for yourself. The rest of the ensemble cast, especially Rosalie Ashton-Washington (a/k/a Lady Tambourine), along with the outstanding gospel numbers, makes The Fighting Temptations a soulful musical comedy.

Here's what some moviegoers said as they left the theater: "Excellent. When I get home, I'm calling all my friends to tell them not to miss this movie." "Black audiences will relate to this movie on a more personal level, but this movie will have universal appeal." Connie and Brittany said, "The Fighting Temptations will have crossover appeal because it's a good family movie." Finally, Morris and Daisy commented that even though some of the church scenes were overly exaggerated, the storyline was appealing and both funny and inspirational."

It was also good to see Melba Moore, but I wish she could have belted out a solo instead of being used as a backup singer. Now, if somebody could explain to me what Rue McClanahan's role was (besides playing the token white role), my prayers will be answered.

The Fighting Temptations may have a formulaic storyline, but don't fight the urge to laugh out loud. Who knows, the spirit may tempt you to leave the theater to spread some joy.


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Copyright Cassandra Henry, 2003

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More 3BlackChicks™ review(s) for this week:
(movies reviewed 9/19/03):

Cass' reviews:
The Fighting Temptations

The Diva's reviews:
The Fighting Temptations | Cold Creek Manor | Underworld

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