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The Fighting Temptations (2003)

2:36 | Trailer
A New York advertising executive travels to a small Southern town to collect an inheritance but finds he must create a gospel choir and lead it to success before he can collect.


Jonathan Lynn


Elizabeth Hunter (story), Elizabeth Hunter (screenplay) | 1 more credit »
4 wins & 11 nominations. See more awards »





Cast overview, first billed only:
Nigel Washington Nigel Washington ... Little Darrin
Chloe Bailey ... Little Lilly
Demetress Long ... Church Usher
Ann Nesby Ann Nesby ... Aunt Sally Walker
Faith Evans ... Maryann Hill
Melba Moore ... Bessie Cooley
Rosalie Washington Rosalie Washington ... Faye Jenkins
Ricky Dillard Ricky Dillard ... Choir Director
Larry John Meyers Larry John Meyers ... Homer T. (as L. John Myers)
Shirley Caesar ... Self (as Reverend Shirley Caesar)
LaTanya Richardson Jackson ... Paulina Pritchett (as LaTanya Richardson)
Wendell Pierce ... Reverend Lewis
Lou Myers ... Homer T.
Cuba Gooding Jr. ... Darrin Hill
Lourdes Benedicto ... Rosa Lopez
Learn more

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A New York advertising executive who is about to land a big account, has his life shaken up when it becomes known that he has lied about having a college degree. After being fired, his life is further shaken by his debtors who had counted on paying after landing the account. Having to go on the run, he is called back to his southern town roots, when his great aunt dies. At the reading of the will, he learns he has been asked to assume the mantle of choir director of his great aunt's church and if he can get the choir in the Gospel Explosion in Atlanta, he will inherit stock worth $150,000. Unfortunately the choir leaves a lot to be desired and he has to start recruiting. Among others, he gets three prisoners to join. More importantly, he gets a "sinner" from one of the local night clubs to join. While initially scorned and resisted, nonetheless her voice wins everyone but the hardcore church busybody. Written by John Sacksteder <jsackste@bellsouth.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


She was one temptation, he couldn't resist See more »


Comedy | Drama | Music | Romance

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some sexual references | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »

Did You Know?


Chloe Bailey played the character of Little Lilly while Beyonce played the character at an older age. Beyonce would later sign Chloe and her sister Halle as a group, Chloe X Halle, to her record label Parkwood. Beyonce signed the duo before she remembered their theatrical connection. See more »


When Darrin and the others arrive at the Gospel Explosion, Lilly is wearing a white top with blue jeans. When she goes out to perform, she is wearing an all-black outfit with high heels. See more »


Darrin Hill: Booty is in the eye of the beholder
Lucius: No, booty gonna be in my hand.
Lucius: Check it out now, you see, now your Louisiana booty, it gets its renowned buoyancy from its heavy seafood diet, while your Alabama booty, it's characterized by its density. You're talking about a quarter-bouncing ping. And as for your Mississippi booty, it's been an ongoing debate, but consensus say that the Indian genetic contribution gives us its beautiful tone. And as for your Georgia booty, it's been known for ages that the ...
See more »


Features Cribs (2000) See more »


The Church Is In Mourning
Written and Performed by Shirley Caesar
Produced by Bubba Smith
Shirley Caesar performs courtesy of Word Records
See more »

User Reviews

Could the poster be the worst of the year?
5 August 2003 | by FeverDogSee all my reviews

Yes, the poster is awful, and I wasn't expecting much from the movie, but although I didn't laugh a whole lot, I also didn't roll my eyes much, either. THE FIGHTING TEMPTATIONS is actually a pleasant, genial collection of great musical numbers surrounded by a ho-hum plot that the movie itself doesn't seem to believe it's of any real importance.

The movie concerns Darren (Gooding), a recently-fired New York junior ad exec returning to his Georgian hometown for his aunt's funeral. Aunt Sally, his sole blood relative, was her church's choir director who spoke highly of her nephew to her fellow parishioners and, in her will, wished for him to take over leading the choir to a local gospel chorus competition. Standing in his way are the usual obstacles: the rival director-wannabe, a rag-tag group of underdeveloped misfits the choir's been reduced to, an on again/off again romance, secrets from his secular life, etc. All of these plot points are straight off the shelf, and anyone who's ever seen a movie before will know how this one ends. (Will they win the contest? What do you think?)

So let's disregard the plot, since the movie doesn't bother to give it a second thought. What THE FIGHTING TEMPTATIONS has going for it are several high-energy musical numbers that are rousingly and enthusiastically performed by the cast, most of who come from music backgrounds. Beyoncé Knowles isn't much of an actress, but the three or four songs she leads are terrific, and her vocal range is stunning. Check the cast listing for other actors, and you'll see the musical pedigree assembled for this celebration of black music. The movie gives time for production numbers that run the gamut: Gospel, R&B, soul, rap - every song's a showstopper.

While the music made THE FIGHTING TEMPTATIONS far better than I was expecting, the flat dialogue scenes are boring. However, the movie's opening shot is lovely. The camera floats down from the heavens to a rural church, then goes through its doors into the center of a jubilant gospel number, swirling around the choir and its ecstatic audience. Then, as the movie sets up its plot and introduces the characters, it drags, until the next song, and so on.

But there I go about the plot again. Never mind it. Don't pay attention to some of the details, like the ethically questionable recruitment of prisoners for the choir. Instead, be delighted by what these three men add to the music. Ignore the by-the-numbers screenplay, complete with the False Crisis, False Dawn, Real Crisis, Real Dawn lockstep of the movie's third act. Enjoy the music and forget the story around it.

As for the non-singing actors, Gooding doesn't embarrass himself as much as he has in his other post-JERRY MAGUIRE movies. Steve Harvey, as the local, boozy radio DJ who sees and tells all, gets the most laughs. Wendell Pierce (the church's Reverand) has a strong screen presence. And LaTanya Richardson, despite being stuck in the clichéd nemesis role, makes the most of it.

Now. I'm not familiar with the milieu of a small southern town, but I wonder if such places have such a healthy mix of races in their churches. Throughout the movie I wondered if gospel choirs have the integration of whites and blacks as depicted here. I also wondered why the two main white characters in this choir were portrayed as country bumpkins while the blacks covered the spectrum of personality types. One white guy's name is Corny Dog, and I tried to figure out his position in the church before I gave up and just accepted his role. (He's dressed mainly in coveralls, which leads me to assume he's the church's maintenance man.) Corny Dog is played by Dave Sheridan, who played Doofy in the SCARY MOVIE, um, movies, so maybe typecasting played a role? In any case, he seemed to be there to make, uh, corny faces.

The other white guy also has a yokel nickname. He's Scooter, played by Mickey Jones - a character actor who's been around for years. Scooter is your typical long-haired moonshine imbiber packing heat in overalls, and since I recognize Jones from SLING BLADE, perhaps my perception is being clouded again by an actor's past role?

And Rue McClanahan doesn't have much at all to do in the movie. She's glimpsed in the background of many scenes, but her only real line is a cheap gag that indirectly refers to her GOLDEN GIRLS past.

Anyway, comparisons to SISTER ACT will be inevitable, so allow me to be the first to mention it. Everybody remembers the music in that Whoopi Goldberg hit, but who can, or wants to, recall the details of the plot?


One more note: There's at least three scenes dominated by Pepsi product placement. I could complain about how distracting blue soda cans in the middle of the frame are, but I'd rather ponder the realism of these scenes. The movie takes place in Georgia, so wouldn't Coca-Cola (since its corporate headquarters are in Atlanta) be more prevalent in this town?

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Release Date:

19 September 2003 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

The Fighting Temptations See more »

Filming Locations:

Georgia, USA See more »


Box Office


$30,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$11,758,372, 21 September 2003

Gross USA:


Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | DTS



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See full technical specs »

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