There is something difficult about watching an actor who was once pretty good starring in a vehicle which is almost patently bad. Cuba Gooding, Jr. was not a shoo-in for an Oscar in Jerry Maguire -- better performances have gone without -- but he was funny and cool and talented. It's not even that The Fighting Temptations is such a horrible movie. It's just hard to imagine that Cuba hand-picked this from a large selection of viable scripts.

Temptations is about a failing New York advertising executive (Gooding Jr.) who returns to his hometown of Monte Carlo Georgia after the death of a great aunt. In her will it is stipulated that if her great nephew is willing to lead the Monte Carlo gospel choir to a win in a big competition, he will inherit her stock portfolio, worth $150,000. The caveats are that he knows nothing about music -- and the choir is basically non-existent.

The Fighting Temptations 2 of 5 stars Directed by: Jonathan Lynn Starring: Cuba Gooding Jr., Beyonce Knowles Rated: PG-13

The movie is funny at moments, though it is often unclear whether one is laughing with the film or at it. Steve Harvey shines as the town's only DJ, and some of the musical numbers are really quality in the way that scenes in this type of move can ever be quality. Still, in the end, one can only hope that Cameron Crowe will knock on Cuba's door one of these days -- because Jerry Maguire's a fine movie, and Cuba deserves that.


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