Pin It
Favorite

Fighting Boredom 

by Ed Symkus


Opening with a couple of big blasts of gospel music at a raucous church service, complete with great voices and all the right accompanying moves, The Fighting Temptations -- I'm still not exactly sure what the title means -- takes the shape of a movie with a variation of a tired old plot, and a whole gaggle of outstanding musical treats.


It's small-town Georgia, just over 20 years ago. A young single mom has to choose between singing in the choir and, as one oh-so-righteous parishioner crows, performing "that R & amp;B sex music" she's been singing in a club at night. The talented, but suddenly deflated woman leaves town, with her little boy Darrin in tow.


It's New York City, today. Darrin is now a grown-up junior ad executive (Cuba Gooding Jr.) who's successfully clawing his way to the top -- until it's discovered that he padded his resume with a pile of lies. After being unceremoniously fired, he takes time to return to his Georgia town for the funeral of his Aunt Sally before trying to figure out how to keep the New York creditors away.


And here's where the threadbare plot comes into play. Darrin can't wait to get out of the backward little town. But when the will is read, he finds that Aunt Sally has left him the church choir (he doesn't want it). The will also states that if he can whip the choir into shape and win the state choir championship, he'll get Aunt Sally's $150,000 worth of stocks (he wants it).


The choir is only a ragtag group of six singers who can't sing. Does anyone not yet know where this movie is going?


But wait, there's more. Paulina (LaTanya Richardson), the old coot who was responsible for Darrin and his mom leaving town all those years ago, reveals that she's been waiting for Aunt Sally to pass so she could take the choir over. And Lilly (Beyonce Knowles), Darrin's childhood sweetheart, is still around, and now she is a single mom and singing the devil's music in a club.


Darrin not only flips out over her looks, he can hardly believe how great a singer she is. He immediately reinvents himself, much as he did in New York, and lies about his job. He suddenly becomes a New York record producer, and tries to get her to join the sorry choir. How about now -- anyone figure out what's going to come of all this?


There are no real surprises here. The plot, and a few of the characters, grow tiresome. But there's plenty of funny stuff from Steve Harvey as Miles, a local DJ who acts as the film's Greek chorus, and from Mike Epps as Lucius, a smooth-talking, full-of-himself Cadillac driver. Gooding goes at his part with a whole lot of enthusiasm. He overdoes it when it comes to flashing big smiles. Yet somehow, when he gets so into the physicality of conducting the choir, it doesn't get in the way. At one point he launches into one hell of an amazing back-flip. He's fun to watch.


The film's highlights revolve not around acting performances, but musical ones. The O'Jays are on hand and do a smooth-as-silk "Loves Me Like a Rock" in the barbershop; Reverend Shirley Caesar does everything but bust a gut at Aunt Sally's memorial service when she launches into a combination preaching-singing session; Destiny's Child's star, Beyonce, is passable as an actor, but -- whew! -- can she sing.


The musical scenes get better and better, filling the film with gospel and pop energy. What a pity that it all suddenly turns crassly commercial when the music switches to loud hip-hop. That's the bad news. It's there for absolutely no reason. It simply breaks off from the mood and the plot. The good news is that it goes away after one song.


The competition, fortunately, does go on, and it features, among other performances, an all-too-brief appearance by the Blind Boys of Alabama. Yet just as the momentum of this big set piece gets in motion, the film makes a couple of inexplicable starts and stops -- like the hip-hop, for absolutely no reason -- then gets back on track.


It's marred by a clich & eacute;d ending, but there's some more great pop-gospel at the credits, and Gooding, in a surprising show of grace and athletic skill, really gets to show off his dancing chops.





Publication date: 09/18/03

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • Odds And Ends
  • Odds And Ends

    Idaho lawmakers are pulled in lots of directions; plus, SPD weighs a "culture audit"
    • Mar 25, 2015
  • Four Days A Week
  • Four Days A Week

    Idaho schools that dropped one day a week from their schedule are saving a little money — but at what cost?
    • Mar 25, 2015
  • A County Ombudsman?
  • A County Ombudsman?

    Weighing the costs and benefits of oversight at the Spokane County Sheriff's Office
    • Mar 25, 2015
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Mon | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat
2015 NCAA Division 1 Woman's Regionals

2015 NCAA Division 1 Woman's Regionals @ Spokane Arena

Mon., March 30

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Ed Symkus

  • Lock it Up
  • Lock it Up

    Will Ferrell and Kevin Hart's buddy comedy Get Hard is too soft
    • Mar 25, 2015
  • Robot Rock
  • Robot Rock

    Tired of aliens, Neill Blomkamp tries his hand with robots in Chappie
    • Mar 4, 2015
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Why Idaho kids don't go to college

    And what that means for the Gem State
    • Mar 4, 2015
  • New Blood

    Candidates are launching bids for Spokane City Council and could bring big changes to city government
    • Mar 18, 2015
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

Briefs


Comment


marijuana


Publisher's Note


long reads


© 2015 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation