Despite its gospel music setting, THE FIGHTING TEMPTATIONS contains some strong anti-Christian messages. About the only positive Christian witness in this movie – about a Christian church choir – are the lyrics of the Gospel songs.
In the movie’s opening, a boy’s mother is ostracized from a small town church because she sings “the devil’s music” at a local nightclub. By the time he grows up, the boy, Darrin, has lost his mother in a hit and run accident, and has become a successful advertising executive by making up lies about who he is. It makes sense, in the context of the movie, that when his mother died Darrin would neither turn to the Lord, nor his only family, Aunt Sally, left back in his home town, for help. The same church his Aunt Sally attends ran both Darrin and his mother out of town. So Darrin turns to his own creative resources. He claims to be a graduate of Yale, but he was kicked out of Yale because he lied to them about his high school credentials. When his boss finds this out, he fires him. Darrin wonders why, because advertising is all about lies.
On the same day that he is fired, Darrin learns that his Aunt Sally has passed away. He gets home for her funeral by scrounging up what money he can on his over-extended credit cards. Upon arrival, he finds the church people that he left as a child are still the same judgmental, condemning, fearful, and spineless people he remembers them to be. No one has changed. After the funeral, at the reading of Aunt Sally’s will, Darrin finds that his aunt has left him $150,000 in stocks, if he will lead the church choir to victory at the local “Gospelfest” contest.
Darrin is ready to fly out immediately after the reading of the will until the hope of riches catches his heart. He starts out with five church singers that don’t get along; mainly because of pride. Each one of them want to be the lead singer. Darrin, instead of playing politics, begins to recruit the non-church people in town who can sing, including a beautiful jazz singer named Lilly (Beyoncé Knowles). Lilly is unmarried and has a son. She, too, has been ostracized by the very same church his mother was. This sets the stage for comedy, including conflict between the worldly people in town and the hypocrites at church, and romance.
THE FIGHTING TEMPTATIONS is made by MTV. The movie’s goal is not to glorify God, but music. If the name of Jesus is ever mentioned (the reviewer doesn’t remember hearing it) it would have been a part of one of the gospel songs. The main theme of the story is that music (in this particular cultural setting, Gospel music) has the power to unify people. Besides, it makes them feel good about themselves. Furthermore, nobody truly repents in the story. The movie strongly suggests that the people in God’s church are no different than the people who are in the world. Through the power of gospel music we can all accept our differences and get along.
Thus, the best thing about the movie is, in fact, the powerful Gospel music soundtrack. The music, however, has little significant spiritual or moral effect on the characters beyond unifying them to win a contest. By portraying this, the movie suggests that all we need to do is accept one another. The movie is, however, sufficiently entertaining, so perhaps the music will have a greater effect upon movie viewers in the real world.
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SUMMARY: In THE FIGHTING TEMPTATIONS, an unemployed advertising executive tries to bring a community together so a church choir can win a Gospel music contest. About the only positive Christian witness in this movie are the lyrics of the Gospel songs.
(HH, AbAb, PC, C, LL, S, AA, D, MM) Strong humanist worldview that denies the power of God and the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to change lives, the Christian church is full of hypocrites and nobody really repents, politically correct message about just accepting people for who they are, and some positive Christian elements during Gospel music scenes in the lyrics; 10 obscenities; no violence; some passionate kissing, some light sexual innuendoes, and man talks about being an expert on women's rear ends; no nudity; alcohol use and drunkenness; smoking; and lying, hypocrisy, and love of money.