The Temptations (1998) starring Charles Malik Whitfield, D.B. Woodside, Terron Brooks, Christian Payton, Leon, Alan Rosenberg, Jenifer Lewis, Gina Ravera, Obba Babatundé, Erik Michael Tristan directed by Allan Arkush Movie Review

The Temptations (1998)   4/54/54/54/54/5

Charles Malik Whitfield and D.B. Woodside in The Temptations (1998)

More Than Tempting

I like most people have heard of "The Temptations", I doubt there are many people who have never heard of the great Motown group but as I was born at the start of the 70s my knowledge of them consisted of knowing some of their songs. As such I have to say that whilst I know that the made for TV movie "The Temptations" is based on Otis Williams, the last original band member's account I don't know how much truth there is and am sure that some things would be different if it had been based on a wider series of accounts. But never the less "The Temptations" is one of the best made for TV movies I have watched and also one of the best biopics as it has three things; a great story, great performances and with such a recognizable soundtrack a sense of nostalgia.

To give you a synopsis of "The Temptations" would take far too long but it takes us from Otis Williams when he was "Otis Williams and the Siberians" through signing with a record label, learning the cut throat business the hard way, the formation of The Temptations and signing with Motown through the countless ups and downs as the line up of The Temptations changed with personal problems leading to numerous issues.

Leon in The Temptations (1998)

So this is the story part for me because the story of "The Temptations" is an amazing one, not just the rise to success but because the band had troubles and changed their line up. As such we have Melvin Franklin who battles rheumatoid arthritis and takes painkillers to be able to perform to the detriment of his body, there is David Ruffin who thought he was bigger than the group and tried to hijack them and then there is Paul Williams with a drinking problem. What we watch is how these problems evolve and how Otis believed that no one member of the group was irreplaceable leading to the numerous changes when issues cropped up as well as having to take some desperate measures such as having someone singing Paul's parts off stage when he was too drunk to perform. So this story of the evolving "The Temptations" is the heart of what makes this so good and there is a heck of a lot more with problems with former band mates.

Then there is a nostalgic aspect because even if you are not a fan the number of recognizable songs which appear make it a pure joy. Combine that with the journey across the decades as we go through the various eras of music and it makes it a trip down memory lane. Even if you didn't live through the era the music is so iconic that everyone has memories of a Temptations song and for me that would be "My Girl".

But the crowning glory, what makes "The Temptations" work as a movie is a group of actors committed to the parts. I couldn't tell you how authentic these actors are but Charles Malik Whitfield, D.B. Woodside, Leon and Terron Brooks to name just a few of a large cast all deliver characters and never feel like actors just going through the motions. It allows you to feel like you are part of the story rather than just watching others act and it makes the world of difference.

What this all boils down to is that "The Temptations" is one of the best made for TV biopics I have watched and even if you are only a casual fan of the music the story of "The Temptations" is so fascinating, so dramatic that it will have you gripped.