A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that one character is an unwed mother who's shunned by the church. There are some sexual references, including a man who brags about his conquests and asks children if they know he's their daddy and a crude reference to Mary Magdalene. One of the church leaders is exposed as a hypocrite who lied about her husband leaving her. Darren smokes expensive cigars and several characters drink, one to excess in a manner that's intended to be humorous.
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What's the story?
In THE FIGHTING TEMPTATIONS, Cuba Gooding Jr. plays Darren, who returns to his small Southern hometown for the first time in many years after his aunt's death. She leaves him $150,000, provided that he can get her beloved church choir to win a competition. Darren has spent his life staying far away from the place where his mother was thrown out of the church for singing music that wasn't considered appropriate. Although he is still bitter and angry, he is also insecure, so he fabricates a background he thinks makes him more acceptable. He is so eager to be successful that he proposes an ad campaign that exploits small-town blacks in order to sell more malt liquor. But his lies are exposed and he is fired. He owes a great deal of money. That $150,000 is one temptation he cannot resist, especially when he sees a singer named Lilly (Beyonce Knowles) who could not just win the competition but make some of his other dreams come true as well.
Is it any good?
You may or may not believe that the film's heavenly gospel music saves the soul of an out-of-work advertising executive, but you just might believe that it saves this movie. And that might be enough to make you say "Amen." There is nothing particularly fresh or distinctive about what happens next.
Beyonce Knowles cannot act, but she has a nice presence and a beautiful smile. Cuba Gooding, Jr. can act, but based on the evidence of this movie and several before it, he is choosing not to for the time being. There is some very broad attempted humor, as when they have to bring in a high-voiced convict in chains to sing in the choir. But that music is just plain glorious, especially when Knowles, the O Jays, Melba Moore, Faith Evans, and real-life gospel star Shirley Caesar raise up their voices.