The Fighting Temptations
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|The Fighting Temptations|
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Jonathan Lynn|
|Produced by||David Gale
Loretha C. Jones
|Written by||Elizabeth Hunter
Saladin K. Patterson
|Starring||Cuba Gooding, Jr.
|Music by||Jimmy Jam
|Edited by||Paul Hirsch|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
The Fighting Temptations is a 2003 American musical comedy-drama film directed by Jonathan Lynn, written by Elizabeth Hunter and Saladin K. Patterson, and distributed by Paramount Pictures and MTV Films. The main plot revolves around Darrin Hill (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) who travels to his hometown of Monte Carlo, Georgia as he attempts to revive a church choir in order to enter a gospel competition with the help of a beautiful lounge singer, Lilly (Beyoncé Knowles), with whom he falls in love. Through the choir's music, Darrin brings the church community back together all the while pursuing a romantic relationship with Lilly.
The film is notable for its soundtrack and ensemble cast. The film received mixed reviews upon release.
In 1980, a young boy named Darrin Hill (Cuba Gooding, Jr.) and his mother, MaryAnn (Faith Evans), are run out of town after MaryAnn was soon discovered to be a singing secular music when she also sings in a church choir. Aunt Sally (Ann Nesby) attempts to defend MaryAnn, but it fails. The church's cowardly pastor, Reverend Lewis (Wendell Pierce), is too afraid of the other church members to let her stay. MaryAnn and Darrin are last seen saying goodbye to Aunt Sally, as they sadly wave goodbye with each other. In 2003, Darrin has grown up to become a successful advertising executive in New York City with a bad habit of lying. Darrin's only true friend and secretary, Rosa Lopez (Lourdes Benedicto), does a good job at keeping his credit problems under control. However, Darrin has achieved so much under false pretenses and faked his college degree and high school diploma. Darrin also lied about being the son of a congressman, and his lies soon catch up with him and get him in trouble with his paranoid boss (Dakin Matthews) and Darrin loses his job. After being tracked down by a private investigator, Darrin soon finds out that Aunt Sally has died.
Darrin returns to his hometown of Monte Carlo, Georgia and looks back on both comical and heartbreaking memories of MaryAnn and the experiences they had together. When Darrin arrives, he finds a new friendship in Lucious (Mike Epps), the town's happy-go-lucky cab driver. Lucious is obsessed with women's booties and even proclaims himself a "Booty expert" and "Bootyologist". At Aunt Sally's funeral, Shirley Caesar makes a cameo appearance as a character who was an old friend of Sally and sings at the funeral. After the funeral, Darrin soon learns from the Reverend that Aunt Sally had stated in her will that he must return home to direct the church choir and enter the annual "Gospel Explosion" competition and win the prize money of $10,000 and Aunt Sally's stock in the company that produces the show which is currently worth $150,000. Paulina is furious with the belief that Sally gave the choir to the wrong person and tried to plead her case.
Later, Paulina reveals that Darrin forgot to enter the choir into the auditions. Luckily, the audition judge, Luther Washington (Faizon Love), who is also the town's prison warden, lets them perform in a show for his prisoners when the booked act fails to arrive. Thanks to Lilly's beautiful looks and voice, the choir performs well and Washington lets them into the competition. Washington also lets Darrin use three convicts who can sing well. The three convicts are Bee-Z Briggs, Lightfoot, and Mr. Johnson (T-Bone, Chris Cole, and Montell Jordan). After weeks of success, the choir has become more popular, more people have joined the church and the choir. Darrin also begins dating Lilly. However, Paulina takes a message for Darrin in a phone call from Rosa and learns of his past troubles, and intends on exposing him the first chance she gets. The next afternoon at a church barbecue, Paulina deliberately reveals Darrin's secrets with a polite demeanor, in order to make herself look innocent. Lilly is furious and heartbroken about this and the people who he promised money to begin to panic, and tells Darrin that she doesn't care what he does, she was only using him because he was using her.
Since Lilly wants nothing to do with him, Darrin decides to quit and returns to New York, where he has been offered his job back. However, Darrin goes back and gets a new condo and a promotion, and comes to realize that none of these things mean anything without Lilly and the choir. Darrin quits his job and returns to Monte Carlo to reconcile with Lilly. Darrin and Lilly recruits Lucious and the Reverend and all of them rush down to the Gospel Explosion to join the choir for the performance. When Darrin and Lilly arrive, Paulina tries to keep them out. However, Reverend Lewis stands up to Paulina and calls her out for being a selfish, conniving person. He reveals to the choir that her husband is alive and remarried to a wonderful woman. Lilly agrees and scolds Paulina for insulting Sally's will, which gave Darrin the choir. They manage to convince the others to vote Paulina out of the choir, giving Darrin his position as director back. Before their performance begins, Darrin tells Lilly that she inspired him to name the choir The Fighting Temptations. After an outstanding performance, the choir wins the competition, but before ending his acceptance speech, Darrin surprises Lilly with an unexpected marriage proposal, to which she accepts. Eighteen months later, the two are shown to be happily married with a baby of their own. A reformed Paulina rejoins the choir and is more open to people planning to join the choir.
- Cuba Gooding, Jr. as Darrin Hill
- Nigel Washington as Young Darrin
- Beyoncé Knowles as Lilly
- Chloe Bailey as Young Lilly
- Mike Epps as Lucious
- Latanya Richardson as Paulina Lewis-Pritchett
- Wendell Pierce as Reverend Paul Lewis
- Ann Nesby as Aunt Sally
- Lourdes Benedicto as Rosa Lopez
- Dakin Matthews as Mr. Fairchild
- T-Bone as Briggs (Convict #1)
- Montell Jordan as Mr. Johnson (Convict #2)
- Lou Myers as Homer
- Angie Stone as Alma
- Melba Moore as Bessie
- Mitchah Williams as Jimmy B.
- Mickey Jones as Scooter
- Dave Sheridan as Bill the mechanic
- Rue McClanahan as Nancy Stringer
- Lil Zane as Derek
- Mae Middleton as Tasha
- Eddie Levert as Joseph
- Walter Williams as Frank
- Eric Nolan Grant as Samuel
- Darrell Vanterpool as Dean
- Faizon Love as Luther Washington (Prison Warden)
- Faith Evans as MaryAnn Hill
- Steve Harvey as Miles Smoke (Local Radio DJ)
- James E. Gaines as Lilly's grandfather
- Chris Cole as Lightfoot (Convict #3)
- Shirley Caesar as Herself
- The Blind Boys of Alabama as Themselves
- Mary Mary as Themselves
- Ramiyah as Themselves
- Donnie McClurkin as Judge of Gospel Explosion (Himself)
- Yolanda Adams as Judge of Gospel Explosion (Herself)
- Daphne Duplaix as Tiffany, Darrin's girlfriend
The film crew used several locations throughout Georgia. The final scene was filmed in Columbus, GA at the River Center for Performing Arts. Several of the extras were local residents of Columbus, GA.
The music of the film received universal acclaim, most notably, Beyoncé's cover of "Fever".
However, the film itself received generally mixed reviews upon its release. The film was criticized for its allegedly poor dialogue, rehashed premise and romantic chemistry between the film's lead actors (Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Beyoncé Knowles) as well as their noticeable age difference. Despite the mixed reviews the film opened at #2. Notably, Ebert & Roeper reviewed the film and Roger Ebert gave it thumbs up, while Richard Roeper gave it thumbs down. It holds a 42% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
The movie was a minor success at the box office, with a worldwide gross of US$32,445,215 but failed to produce enough revenue for a second installment to go into production (though the primary actors had signed on for one).
However, the cast themselves were very pleased with the film, citing its uplifting story and soundtrack. Gooding has confessed in several interviews following the film's release that he enjoyed filming his kissing scenes with Knowles. In a 2011 interview on The Late Late Show, Gooding made a humorous reference to this by saying: (In the false words of the host) "Didn't he make love with Beyoncé on the set of something?".
A soundtrack accompanied the film and was released by Sony on September 9, 2003 prior to the film itself. The soundtrack received generally positive reviews and was more successful than the film itself. Only one song from the album, "Summertime", is not included in the movie. The late R&B legend Luther Vandross also recorded a song for the film called "Shine" but it failed to make the final cut of the film as well as the soundtrack. The most obvious reference to this is the fact that Vandross frequently says the title of the film in the song. The song "Come Back Home" appears in the film, but was not included on the soundtrack album. It also noted that several other songs performed during the movie including "Church Is in Mourning (Aunt Sally's Funeral Tribute)" by Shirley Caesar, "Won't Ever Change" by Mary Mary, "Waiting" by Ramiyah, and "Soldier" by The Blind Boys of Alabama, were also not included on the soundtrack.
- "Fighting Temptation" — Beyoncé (feat. Missy Elliott, MC Lyte, and Free)
- "I Know" — Destiny's Child
- "Rain Down" — Eddie Levert Sr. and Angie Stone
- "To da River" — T-Bone, Lil Zane, and Montell Jordan
- "I'm Getting Ready" — Ann Nesby
- "The Stone" — Shirley Caesar and Ann Nesby
- "Heaven Knows" — Faith Evans
- "Fever" — Beyoncé
- "Everything I Do" — Beyoncé and Bilal
- "Loves Me Like a Rock" — The O'Jays
- "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" — Beyoncé
- "He Still Loves Me" — Walter Williams Sr. and Beyoncé
- "Time to Come Home" — Beyoncé, Melba Moore, and Angie Stone
- "Don't Fight the Feeling" — Solange and Papa Reu
- "Summertime" — Beyoncé (feat. P. Diddy) (Note: This is the only song that does not appear in the film)
The film was released on VHS and DVD on February 3, 2004. While there is a high-definition digital release, it has yet to be released on Blu-ray Disc as of 2015.
In a 2003 interview with Mickey Jones, (who had a supporting role in the film), for HollywoodJesus.com, he stated that he hoped the film performed well because all of the principal actors had signed on for a sequel. But as of 2015, twelve years after the film's release, nothing has been announced about a sequel.
Awards and nominations
|BET Comedy Awards||Beyoncé Knowles||Outstanding Actress in a Box-Office Movie||Nominated|
|Mike Epps||Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Box-Office Movie||Nominated|
|Black Reel Awards||Cuba Gooding, Jr.||Best Actor||Nominated|
|Beyoncé Knowles||Best Actress||Nominated|
Saladin K. Patterson
|Best Screenplay Original or Adapted||Nominated|
|Best Film Soundtrack||Won|
|"He Still Loves Me"||Best Film Song||Won|
|Golden Raspberry Awards||Cuba Gooding, Jr.||Worst Actor||Nominated|
|Image Awards||Outstanding Motion Picture||Won|
|Beyoncé Knowles||Outstanding Actress in a Motion Picture||Nominated|
- Official website
- The Fighting Temptations at the Internet Movie Database
- The Fighting Temptations at AllMovie
- The Fighting Temptations at Box Office Mojo
- The Fighting Temptations at Rotten Tomatoes