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Movie Review

THE FIGHTING TEMPTATIONS

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some sexual references

Also see our INTERVIEWS with the cast/crew of this film, including Christian rap artist T-BONE

Reviewed by: Chris Monroe
STAFF WRITER

Better than Average
Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults and teens
Genre:
Comedy and Musical/Performing Arts

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

Copyright, Paramount
Copyright, Paramount
Copyright, Paramount
Copyright, Paramount
Copyright, Paramount
Copyright, Paramount
Copyright, Paramount
Copyright, Paramount
Copyright, Paramount
 

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.

Official Web site: FightingTemptations.com

Year of Release—2003


Viewer Comments

Positive—…my wife and I sure enjoyed it! Yes, it has a few moments where Beyonce flaunts a little of her sexuality, but compared to Brittany Spears, Janet Jackson and many others, it is very tame. The story line is good (very much like the prodigal son) and the music is fabulous! As much as I dislike rap, I even enjoyed that in this movie because of the gospel orientated words. The cast is great—Cuba is such a talented actor and can he move! A movie I’d recommend to all, but the most overly sensitive viewers. If you like black southern gospel music, you’ll love this flic!
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4]
—Bob Sprenger, age 51
Positive—This is a wonderful film, full of spirit and encouraging people to look into Christianity. There are a few things that might not be good for younger children, but on the whole it’s great.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/5]
—Joan Rhodda, age 49
Positive—This movie was great. It showed a lot of christianity and spirit. The movie was great for teens and adults. A few questionable things but overall the movie had great morals and standards.
My Ratings: [Good/5]
—John Edwards, age 35
Negative—…The idea for the movie was an interesting premise, but I found the church and the way that Christianity was approached to be a joke. I know after seeing this movie I wouldn’t want to go to a church where the house of the Lord is full of tension and anger. The inmates who where part of the choir being forced to be baptized to join the choir was questionable. Steve Harvey making some reference to Jesus as they were being immersed left me feeling very uneasy. I would rather a movie didn’t touch the subject of Christianity than to turn the church into a joke. The pastor was completely spine-less even if in the end he did change the whole movie showed the church as a house of strife and not what a church should be. I realize that people are glad that (MTV) tried to put together a movie that touches religious issues. But the bootie talk, sexual dancing, and irreverent nature of the movie come out loud and clear. The same network that brought us Britney and Madonna and a peep show from Janet how good of a job can they do with bringing a message of truth from a church choir movie. My advice is to stay away from this poorly acted movie that I feel was a loss of time out of my life. Please MTV just stay away from My faith stick to Road Trip type movies and don’t bring your sex-obsessed premise into a “Faith-based Movie.”…
My Ratings: [Very Offensive/1]
—Aaron, age 23
Positive—It was a surprise for me, this movie. Lots of Christian music (including some traditional songs). No sex scenes, no cuss words. And don’t forget the lesson, by the end of the movie, given to hypocrite Christians. A movie that the whole family can see with no regrets.
My Ratings: [Good/3]
—Gustavo Bastos, age 45

Comments from young people
Positive—I thought that this movie good. I think that they could have left out the performance of “Fever” and it would have been just as good. I would have loved the movie even more if they took out some of the cursing.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4]
—Terry, age 13
Neutral—I liked this movie it had a good amount of comedy in it. I didn’t like how they talked about some inappropriate things. Sometimes they had the main actress dress bad which I didn’t like. There wasn’t any language that I recall. Darren (played by Cuba Gooding Jr.) Had a very bad habit of using credit cards way too much. The whole storyline was good with some good songs. I don’t think that kids under the age of 8 should see this though. I mean I’m 12 and we had to fast forwardd through 2 scenes.
My Ratings: [Better than Average/4]
—Brittany Marie Jensen, age 12