The likable comedy "The Fighting Temptations" has one big problem — it doesn't know when to stop, or when to keep going. Case in point: In a scene midway through the movie, a group of men in a small-town barbershop croon the Paul Simon tune "Loves Me Like a Rock." It's a terrific, toe-tapping moment, sung with heart and dash by the classic R&B group the O'Jays — and director Jonathan Lynn cuts abruptly out of it, halfway through the song, so as to go grocery shopping next door with Cuba Gooding Jr. and Beyoncé Knowles. Um, what? Let the men sing!
The film, which will remind many of "Sister Act" minus the nuns, stars Gooding as Darren Hill, a fast-talker who returns home to Monte Carlo, Ga., for his aunt's funeral, only to learn that he must lead the church's gospel choir to success as her final wish. Trouble is, nobody in town can sing. No worries; there's those dudes at the barbershop, and the jazz-singing single mom (Knowles) down the street, and a handful of random convicts — and hey, some of those church ladies turn out to have pipes as free-spirited as their Sunday hats.
But "The Fighting Temptations" exists for its rousing gospel soundtrack, which is at times so good that you can forgive the movie its flaws. Like the upcoming "The School of Rock," the movie is ultimately about how music can bring people together — an old tune, but one worth hearing.
Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or firstname.lastname@example.org