The Fighting Temptations

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Fighting Temptations
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJonathan Lynn
Written byElizabeth Hunter
Saladin K. Patterson
Produced by
CinematographyAffonso Beato
Edited byPaul Hirsch
Music byJimmy Jam
Terry Lewis
James Wright
MTV Films
Handprint Films
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • September 19, 2003 (2003-09-19)
Running time
123 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$30 million
Box office$32.7 million

The Fighting Temptations is a 2003 American musical comedy 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. He seeks the help of a beautiful lounge singer and childhood friend, Lilly (Beyoncé Knowles), with whom he falls in love.[1] Through the choir's music, Darrin brings the church community back together all the while wooing Lilly.

The film is notable for its soundtrack and ensemble cast. The film received mixed reviews upon release.


In 1980, young Darrin Hill and his mother, MaryAnn, are run out of Monte Carlo, Georgia, after MaryAnn is soon discovered to be singing secular R&B music while also singing in their church's choir. After being confronted about this by the self-righteous and domineering Paulina Pritchett, MaryAnn is forced to choose between singing professionally or remaining in the choir. MaryAnn chooses the former, and she and Darrin are last seen on a bus saying goodbye to their beloved Aunt Sally, as they sadly wave to each other.

In 2003, Darrin is a successful advertising executive in New York City with a bad habit of lying; MaryAnn is later revealed to have died in a hit-and-run accident when he was a teenager. His secretary and only loving, true friend, Rosa Lopez, keeps his credit problems under control. However, Darrin has achieved so much under false pretenses, having faked his college degree and high school diploma and lied about being the son of a congressman. Eventually, his lies get him in trouble with his paranoid boss, resulting in Darrin‘s termination. After being tracked down by a private investigator, Darrin finds out that Aunt Sally has died.

Darrin returns to Monte Carlo and upon arrival, finds new friendships in Paulina's grandson Jimmy B. and Lucious, the town's happy-go-lucky, womanizing cab driver. After Aunt Sally's funeral, Darrin learns from Reverend Paul Lewis, the church's pastor and Paulina's brother, that Aunt Sally stated in her will that he must direct the church choir and enter the annual "Gospel Explosion" competition and win $10,000 and in doing so, will inherit Aunt Sally's stock in the company that produces the show which is currently worth $150,000. This, however, does not sit well with Paulina, as she had originally been next in line.

Upon taking charge of the once-powerful choir, Darrin discovers only a handful of members remain. After several setbacks, Darrin eventually recruits many new members, most of which he does so by promising them half of the prize money to them (though he has no intention of actually paying anyone). He also reconnects with his childhood friend and crush Lilly, who was also ostracized due to being a nightclub singer, and having a son, Dean, out of wedlock. Lilly at first refuses to join the choir, but with some assurance from Darrin, she ultimately becomes the choir's new lead singer, causing Paulina to quit in retaliation.

Several weeks later, Paulina reveals that Darrin failed to enter the choir into the auditions on time. Luckily, the audition judge, Luther Washington, who is also the town's prison warden, lets them perform for his prisoners when another act cancels. Thanks to Lilly's beautiful looks and voice, the choir performs well, and Washington lets them into the competition. Washington also lets Darrin borrow three convicts, Bee-Z Briggs, Lightfoot, and Mr. Johnson, who can sing and rap.

After weeks of success, the choir and the church has become more popular. Lilly starts to trust Darrin and develops romantic feelings for him as well. However, Paulina takes a message for Darrin in a phone call from Rosa and learns of his past troubles. The next afternoon, Paulina deliberately reveals Darrin's secrets with a polite demeanor in order to make herself look innocent. Lilly, furious that Darrin had been using her all along, coldly tells him that she does not care what he does, and the choir members begin to panic and become angry at him for his lies. Darrin, however, rebukes them for their hypocrisy of joining the choir just to get paid, as well as the rest of the churchgoers for running him and his mother out of town all those years ago simply over her decision to pursue her singing dreams.

Darrin quits and returns to New York, where he has been offered his job back with a promotion. However, shortly after Darrin gets the promotion and a new condo, he comes to realize that none of these things mean anything without Lilly and the choir. Darrin quits and returns to Monte Carlo to reconcile with Lilly. Afterwards, the two recruit Lucious and the Reverend, and they all rush down to the Gospel Explosion to join the choir for the performance.

When Darrin and Lilly arrive, Paulina, having taken over as director, tries to keep them out, citing that Darrin forfeited his inheritance when he left Monte Carlo. However, Reverend Lewis finally stands up to Paulina and calls her out for her actions. He then reveals that her husband, whom she previously had claimed was deceased, is alive and remarried to a better woman. Lilly scolds Paulina for insulting Sally's will and wishes, 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. They win the competition, but before ending his acceptance speech, Darrin starts a proper relationship with Lilly by surprising her with an unexpected marriage proposal, which she accepts. Eighteen months later, the two are shown to be happily married with a baby of their own. In addition, the church is about to undergo an expansion, and Paulina has returned to the choir after seemingly reforming her ways.




The film crew used several locations throughout Georgia. The final scene was filmed in Columbus, GA at the RiverCenter for the Performing Arts. Several of the extras were local residents of Columbus, GA.


The music of the film received critical acclaim, most notably, Beyoncé's cover of "Fever".[2][3]

However, the film itself received generally mixed reviews upon its release. The film was criticized for its screenplay, rehashed premise and lack of chemistry between actors Gooding and Knowles. The film, nevertheless, opened at #2. Notably, Ebert & Roeper reviewed the film and Roger Ebert gave it thumbs up.[4] It holds a 42% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 111 reviews, with an average rating of 5.32/10.[5] The site's critical consensus states, "The music is the only saving grace in this predictable and eager-to-please comedy."

The movie grossed only US$32,445,215 worldwide and thus failed to turn a profit thus canceling any plans for a second installment to go into production (though the primary actors had signed on for one).


The Fighting Temptations (Music From The Motion Picture)
Soundtrack album by
Various Artists
ReleasedSeptember 9, 2003
Singles from The Fighting Temptations (Music From The Motion Picture)
  1. "Fighting Temptation"
    Released: August 18, 2003
  2. "Summertime"
    Released: October 28, 2003

A soundtrack accompanied the film and was released by Music World / Columbia / Sony Music on September 9, 2003.[6] The soundtrack received generally positive reviews and proved to be more successful than the film itself. Only one song from the album, "Summertime", is not included in the movie. The song "Come Back Home" appears in the film, but was not included on the soundtrack album. 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.

Standard edition
1."Fighting Temptation" (Beyoncé, Missy Elliott, MC Lyte & Free)
  • Missy Elliott
  • LaShaun Owens
  • Karriem Mack
  • Lana Moorer
  • Marie Wright
  • Jonathan Burks
  • Walter Murphy
  • Gene Pistilli
2."I Know" (Destiny's Child)
3."Rain Down" (Eddie Levert & Angie Stone)
  • Rex Rideout
  • David Harper
  • Terri Harper
  • Rex Rideout
  • Loretha Jones
4."To Da River" (T-Bone, Lil Zane, & Montell Jordan)
  • Louis Brown
  • Scott Parker
Buster & Shavoni4:12
5."I'm Getting Ready" (Ann Nesby)Shirley CaesarBubba Smith3:15
6."The Stone" (Ann Nesby & Shirley Caesar)CaesarBubba Smith1:53
7."Heaven Knows" (Faith Evans)5:43
8."Fever" (Beyoncé)
  • John Davenport
  • Eddie Cooley
  • Peggy Lee (uncredited)
9."Everything I Do" (Beyoncé & Bilal)
  • Jam and Lewis
  • Wright
  • Jam and Lewis
  • Wright
10."Loves Me Like A Rock" (The O'Jays)Paul SimonBubba Smith2:26
11."Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" (Beyoncé)Wallace Willis
  • Beyoncé
  • Jones
12."He Still Loves Me" (Beyoncé & Walter Williams Sr.)
  • Jam and Lewis
  • Wright
  • Jam and Lewis
  • Wright
13."Time To Come Home" (Beyoncé, Angie Stone & Melba Moore)
  • Beyoncé
  • Jam and Lewis
  • Wright
  • Jam and Lewis
  • Wright
14."Don't Fight The Feeling" (Solange Knowles & Papa Reu)
  • Solange
  • Derek "Grizz" Edwards
15."Summertime" (Beyoncé & Diddy)
  • Diddy
  • Mario Winans
  • Steven Jordan
Total length:54:44


Credits adapted from Apple Music, Discogs, and Spotify.[7]

  • Mathew Knowles - Executive Producer
  • Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis - Executive Producer
  • James "Big Jim" Wright - Executive Producer
  • Spring Aspers - Co-executive Music Producer
  • Dave Pensado - Mixing Engineer (2,8)
  • Jim Caruana - Recording Engineer (2)
  • Manny Marroquin - Mixing Engineer (3-6,8,10-11)
  • Ken Fambro - DJ (4)
  • Faith Evans - Background Vocals (7)
  • James "Big Jim" Wright - Keyboards (7,9), Background Vocals (7)
  • Beyoncé - Background Vocals (9)
  • Debra Killings - Background Vocals (9)
  • Issiah "Iz" Avila - Drums (7,9,12), Percussion (9,12)
  • Bobby Ross Avila - Keyboards (7,12), Bass (12)
  • Jimmy "Z" Zavala - Saxophone (7)
  • Alex "Godson" Richbourg - Programming (7,9)
  • Matt Marrin - Engineer (7,9)
  • Jeff Penn - Assistant Engineer (7,9)
  • Neal Pogue - Mixing Engineer (7,9,13)
  • Jeff Robinette - Mixing Engineer (7), Assistant Engineer (9)
  • Blake Eiseman - Recording Engineer (7,9,12-13)
  • Weyburn Dean - Arranger (11)
  • Keith Lancaster - Arranger (11)
  • Steven Jordan - Guitar (15)
  • Paul Logus - Guitar (15), Mixing Engineer (15)
  • Lynn Montrose - Assistant Engineer (15)
  • Alexis Seaton - Assistant Engineer (15)
  • Roger Che - Recording Engineer (15)
  • Teresa LaBarbera Whites - A&R Direction
  • Alvin Williams - A&R Direction
  • Kim Burse - A&R Direction
  • Huy Nguyen - A&R Co-ordination For Music World
  • Michael Lau-Robles - Design
  • Hooshik Bayliss - Art Direction


Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[8] Gold 500,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.

Cancelled sequel[edit]

In a 2003 interview with the late Mickey Jones (who had a supporting role in the film), for now defunct, he stated that he hoped the film performed well because all of the principal actors had signed on for a sequel.[9]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Ceremony Recipient Category Result
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
Elizabeth Hunter
Saladin K. Patterson
Best Screenplay Original or Adapted Nominated
Best Film 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


  1. ^ "The Fighting Temptations". IMDb. Retrieved 25 May 2012.
  2. ^ Archive-Jon-Wiederhorn. "Damon Elliott Gives Beyonce 'Fever,' Writes Lame Raps". MTV News. Retrieved 2020-07-06.
  3. ^ "Beyonce fever". Evening Standard. 2003-12-11. Retrieved 2020-07-06.
  4. ^ Ebert, Roger. "The Fighting Temptations movie review (2003) | Roger Ebert". Retrieved 2020-07-06.
  5. ^ The Fighting Temptations - Movie Reviews, retrieved 2020-07-06
  6. ^ Fighting Temptations. "Fighting Temptations: Music". Amazon. Retrieved 2012-12-12.
  7. ^ "The Fighting Temptations (Music From The Motion Picture) by Various Artists on Apple Music". September 9, 2003 – via
  8. ^ "American album certifications – Soundtrack – The Fighting Temptations". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved December 22, 2022.
  9. ^ "Hollywood Jesus Newsletter #59 - Interview with Mickey Jones". Retrieved 2021-01-25.

External links[edit]