The Fighting Temptations
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|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|
|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 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 seeking a 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 their hometown 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 Paulina Pritchett (LaTanya Richardson), 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 (Ann Nesby), as they sadly wave to each other.
In 2003, 23 years later, Darrin has grown up to become a successful advertising executive in New York City with a bad habit of lying; MaryAnn is later revealed to have died in a car accident when he was a teenager. His secretary and only true friend, Rosa Lopez (Lourdes Benedicto), does a good job at keeping 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 soon catch up with him and get him in trouble with his paranoid boss (Dakin Matthews), 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, he finds new friendships in Paulina’s grandson Jimmy B. (Mitchah Williams) and Lucious (Mike Epps), the town's happy-go-lucky, womanizing cab driver. After Aunt Sally's funeral, Darrin learns from Reverend Paul Lewis (Wendell Pierce), the church's pastor and Paulina's brother, that Aunt Sally had stated in her will that he must direct the church choir and enter the annual "Gospel Explosion" competition and win the prize money of $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 after Sally to become choir director.
Upon taking charge of the once-powerful choir, Darrin discovers that it has fallen into decline over the years, with only a handful of members remaining. After several setbacks, Darrin eventually recruits many new members, most of which he does so by promising half of the competition's prize money to them (though he has no intention of actually paying anyone). He also reconnects with his childhood friend and crush Lilly (Beyoncé), who has faced ostracization from the townspeople similar to MaryAnn's, due to her being an R&B nightclub singer, and having a son, Dean (Darrell Vanterpool), out of wedlock. Lilly at first refuses to join the choir as she is both put off by Darrin's romantic advances and because she doesn't want to deal with the townpeople's criticism of her, but with some assurance from Darrin, she ultimately relents and 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 (Faizon Love), who is also the town's prison warden, lets them perform in a show for his prisoners when their booked 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 (T-Bone, Chris Cole, and Montell Jordan), who can sing and rap.
After weeks of success, the choir has become more popular, as more people have joined both it and the church. 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 at a church barbecue, 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 doesn't care what he does, and in addition, the choir members whom Darrin promised money to 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.
Since Lilly wants nothing to do with him now, 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 soon quits his job and returns to Monte Carlo to reconcile with Lilly. The two then recruit 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, 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 being a selfish, conniving, hypocritical individual. He then reveals to the choir 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. After giving an outstanding performance, the choir wins 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.
- Cuba Gooding Jr. as Darrin Hill
- Nigel Washington as Young Darrin
- Beyoncé 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
- Wilbur Fitzgerald as L&G Representative
- 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 RiverCenter for the Performing Arts. Several of the extras were local residents of Columbus, GA.
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. It holds a 42% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 111 reviews, with an average rating of 5.32/10. The site's critical consensus states, "The music is the only saving grace in this predictable and eager-to-please comedy."
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).
A soundtrack accompanied the film and was released by Sony on September 9, 2003. 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. 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, Missy Elliott, MC Lyte and Free
- "I Know" — Destiny's Child
- "Rain Down" — Eddie Levert 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)
The film was released on VHS and DVD on February 3, 2004.
In a 2003 interview with the late Mickey Jones (who had a supporting role in the film), for now defunct HollywoodJesus.com, he stated that he hoped the film performed well because all of the principal actors had signed on for 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|
- "The Fighting Temptations". IMDb. Retrieved 25 May 2012.
- Archive-Jon-Wiederhorn. "Damon Elliott Gives Beyonce 'Fever,' Writes Lame Raps". MTV News. Retrieved 2020-07-06.
- "Beyonce fever". Evening Standard. 2003-12-11. Retrieved 2020-07-06.
- Ebert, Roger. "The Fighting Temptations movie review (2003) | Roger Ebert". www.rogerebert.com/. Retrieved 2020-07-06.
- The Fighting Temptations - Movie Reviews, retrieved 2020-07-06
- Fighting Temptations. "Fighting Temptations: Music". Amazon.com. Retrieved 2012-12-12.
- "Hollywood Jesus Newsletter #59 - Interview with Mickey Jones". www.hollywoodjesus.com. Retrieved 2021-01-25.