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The Fighting Temptations

Starring: Beyonce Knowles, Cuba Gooding Jr., Steve Harvey and tons of other huge musical talents that'll blow your mind…
Directed by: Jonathan Lynn

 

 

Dear God - literally - what was Cuba Gooding Jr. thinking? Ya know I have been pretty nice with the talented yumsicle in the past - I even thought his Love Boat homage was quirky and fun. This, however, was a colossal waste of an evening. Sure, the music is incredible but the producers at MTV Films - yes, I said MTV Films which is a premonitory oxymoron if ever - decided no one would notice this is nothing more then a star-studded seven-hour, err, and two-hour music video they threw together. They were wrong.

The story (read: "Dick and Jane Wash the Doggy" is a Pulitzer Prize winning Novel in comparison) goes…Darrin Hill (Cuba - seek career guidance - Gooding Jr.) is a slick egotistical lying manpig hot as lava in the advertising world of New York City. That is until they discover he's a fraud. And as brilliant as he may be at clouding the minds of product purchasers, he's fired. Snore.

His aunt - whom he has not spoken to for over twenty years - dies and requests he come home to the poor south to hear her will. He desperately needs whatever dough she done left so he's aboard a train (?) in an hour…

Ho-hum.

He gets there and discovers a little time capsule of kinfolks and friends being all southern. He's told Aunt Sally has left him stock that's worth 150,000 bucks which is his if he can get the choir to the Gospel Explosion championship thingy. Oh, and guess who's ho-ing up the little town? That's right his childhood sweetheart, Lilly, who's now a soulful saloon singer the church's snooty matriarch Paulina (Latanya Richardson) hails as Satan's own concubine. Naturally Lilly (Beyonce Knowles) is far from a ho and dances around sexual attraction to Darrin for a while. For two (long) hour as a matter of fact! All the while we are bombarded with every other going-home-to-your-humble-roots cliché the writer Elizabeth Hunter could muster up too. Yech.

It's only the exceptional musical numbers, these delightfully askew cameos by Steve Harvey as a bottle-tipping radio personality and Mike Epps' oblivious "Town-Player" role that even keep you awake.

The little "choir" Cuba's leading is spectacular! And why not? It's really The O'Jays, Faith Evans, Angie Stone, Melba Moore, Montell Jordan, Zane, mansteak in disguise T-Bone, Beyonce, and Rue McClanahan (as the token dirty old white lady) all singin' their guts out. And you get these stunning gospel pieces from the Reverend Shirley Caesar and the Blind Boys of Alabama to boot! Basically? It's a looonnnggg gospel music video disguised as a film kids.

Wait till this is on DVD then buy it and blast it in the background for the unbelievable music- unless they are smart enough to have every song on the soundtrack! Shame on you Cuba.

Snack recommendation: Skip the film and find a nice Gospel brunch in your neck o' da woods.

 

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