The Fighting Temptations

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), with whom he falls in love.[1] Through the choir's music, Darrin brings the church community back together all the while seeking a relationship with Lilly.

Fighting Temptations
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJonathan Lynn
Produced byDavid Gale
Loretha C. Jones
Benny Medina
Jeff Pollack
Written byElizabeth Hunter
Saladin K. Patterson
StarringCuba Gooding Jr.
Mike Epps
Steve Harvey
Faizon Love
Music byJimmy Jam
Beyoncé Knowles
Terry Lewis
James Wright
CinematographyAffonso Beato
Edited byPaul Hirsch
Distributed byParamount Pictures
Release date
  • September 19, 2003 (2003-09-19)
Running time
123 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$30 million
Box office$32,750,821

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 after MaryAnn is soon discovered to be singing secular music when she sings in a church 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 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, Darrin has grown up to become a successful advertising executive in New York City with a bad habit of lying. 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 his hometown 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 (who also has a fear of the Lord, and an unhealthy obsession with women’s buttocks). After Aunt Sally's funeral Darrin soon learns from the Reverend 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.

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 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 disgusted by Darrin's romantic advances and because she doesn't want to put up with the townpeople's criticism of her, but with some assurance from Darrin, she ultimately relents and becomes the new lead singer of the choir, causing Paulina to quit in retaliation.

Before their performance begins, Darrin tells Lilly that she inspired him to name the choir The Fighting Temptations.

After 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, to which she accepts. Eighteen months later, the two are shown to be happily married with a baby of their own.




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.


The music of the film received universal acclaim, most notably, Beyoncé's cover of "Fever".

However, the film itself received generally mixed reviews upon its release. The film was criticized for its allegedly poor dialogue, rehashed premise and romantic chemistry between the film's lead actors (Cuba Gooding Jr. and Beyoncé) as well as their noticeable age difference. Despite the mixed reviews the film opened at #2. Notably, Ebert & Roeper reviewed the film and Roger Ebert gave it thumbs up, while Richard Roeper gave it thumbs down. It holds a 42% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

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).

However, the cast themselves were very pleased with the film, citing its uplifting story and soundtrack. Gooding has confessed in several interviews following the film's release that he enjoyed filming his kissing scenes with Beyoncé. In a 2011 interview on The Late Late Show, Gooding made a humorous reference to this by saying: (In the false words of the host) "Didn't he make love with Beyoncé on the set of something?".


A soundtrack accompanied the film and was released by Sony on September 9, 2003[2] prior to the film itself. The soundtrack received generally positive reviews and was more successful than the film itself. Only one song from the album, "Summertime", is not included in the movie. The late R&B legend Luther Vandross also recorded a song for the film called "Shine" but it failed to make the final cut of the film as well as the soundtrack. The most obvious reference to this is the fact that Vandross frequently says the title of the film in the song. 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.

  1. "Fighting Temptation" — Beyoncé, Missy Elliott, MC Lyte and Free
  2. "I Know" — Destiny's Child
  3. "Rain Down" — Eddie Levert Sr. and Angie Stone
  4. "To da River" — T-Bone, Lil Zane, and Montell Jordan
  5. "I'm Getting Ready" — Ann Nesby
  6. "The Stone" — Shirley Caesar and Ann Nesby
  7. "Heaven Knows" — Faith Evans
  8. "Fever" — Beyoncé
  9. "Everything I Do" — Beyoncé and Bilal
  10. "Loves Me Like a Rock" — The O'Jays
  11. "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot" — Beyoncé
  12. "He Still Loves Me" — Walter Williams Sr. and Beyoncé
  13. "Time to Come Home" — Beyoncé, Melba Moore, and Angie Stone
  14. "Don't Fight the Feeling" — Solange and Papa Reu
  15. "Summertime" — Beyoncé (feat. P. Diddy) (Note: This is the only song that does not appear in the film)

Home media

The film was released on VHS and DVD on February 3, 2004. While there is a high-definition digital release, it has yet to be released on Blu-ray Disc as of 2018.

Cancelled sequel

In a 2003 interview with the late Mickey Jones, (who had a supporting role in the film), for, he stated that he hoped the film performed well because all of the principal actors had signed on for a sequel. As a result of the film's underperformance at the box office, a continuation never materialized.

Awards and nominations

Ceremony Recipient Category Result
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
Elizabeth Hunter
Saladin K. Patterson
Best Screenplay Original or Adapted Nominated
Best Film 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


  1. "The Fighting Temptations". IMDb. Retrieved 25 May 2012.
  2. Fighting Temptations. "Fighting Temptations: Music". Retrieved 2012-12-12.
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