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THE FIGHTING TEMPTATIONS

There’s little about this fish-out-of-water comedy that should work. It stars Cuba Gooding Jr. (whose career has been on a slide ever since his Jerry Maguire mother lode) and a pop diva (just try to recall the last decent film starring Madonna, Whitney, Mariah, or Britney). That said, The Fighting Temptations is a pleasant surprise, thanks to the tight direction by Jonathan Lynn, a witty script, and a soulful performance by Beyoncé Knowles of Destiny’s Child.

Gooding’s Darrin Hill is a do-anything-to-get-ahead (including selling out his fellow black man to make a buck and fudging his credentials) living-over-his-head ad exec in New York. Of course, his world comes crashing down around him. But then his aunt in Georgia dies and leaves him a fortune in stock — provided he take over a church choir and lead it to victory in the big Gospel Explosion. He’s got just six weeks to whip together a ragtag crew who sound like a junkyard dog with laryngitis. So he recruits anyone with pipes (atheists and convicts), plus Lilly (Knowles), the brassy single mother who inevitably becomes his love interest. Mike Epps is hysterical as the "bootyologist," and Christian rapper T-Bone’s spin on gospel sparks the film. (123 minutes)


Issue Date: September 19 - 25, 2003
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