Film reviewer Dana Barbuto says: “Joyful Noise” opens with a showstopper performance to display its musical assets – Queen Latifah as the no-nonsense Vi Rose and Dolly Parton as the irascible G.G. They’re an unlikely combination, but when they share the screen in song or catfight, they are a sight. Have you seen the movie? If so, what did you think?
It’s a weekend of family, faith, fellowship and football around here as devout Christian Tim Tebow rides his Broncos into to Foxboro to take on the Patriots in an AFC Divisional match-up. But the Mountain Messiah isn’t the only competitive Christian in town. The movie “Joyful Noise” – about dueling church choir divas – might be just as uplifting as the David-and-Goliath setting for the big game. The audience I saw it with was hollering “amens” at the screen as if it were any given Sunday at a Joel Osteen sermon.
As it should, “Joyful Noise” opens with a showstopper performance to display its musical assets – Queen Latifah as the no-nonsense Vi Rose and Dolly Parton as the irascible G.G. They’re an unlikely combination, but when they share the screen in song or catfight, they are a sight. “You read the Bible to reminisce,” Vi Rose snaps in one of the film’s better lines. The majority of the time, however, they are bogged down in rote material from a screenplay by writer/director Todd Graff (“Bandslam”). All Graff does is essentially build a narrative around songs – kind of like “Glee.”
And no cliche is safe from being manipulated for maximum melodramatic effect. Graff has it all: a teen boy with Asperger’s, financial hardships, foreclosures, a deployed dad, forbidden love, and of course, God (not that there is anything wrong with that.) Puppies and babies are the only missing pieces.
The setting for “Joyful Noise” is Pacashau, Georgia, a tiny Southern town where the main attraction is the church choir. What ensues is basically a by-the-numbers sports movie. The choir is competing for the national championship. Their coach, err, director (Kris Kristofferson) suddenly dies, leaving the team, err, choir in disarray. Vi Rose and G.G. clash over how to lead the choir to victory. Since they lose to the same choir every year, G.G. wants to shake things up; traditionalist Vi Rose doesn’t.
Added to the mix is the unexpected arrival of G.G.’s rebellious grandson (Jeremy Jordan from Broadway’s “Bonnie and Clyde”). Sparks fly between Jordan’s Randy and Vi Rose’s beautiful daughter, Olivia (Keke Palmer). Latifah can sleepwalk through the overprotective mother bit, but in one scene she rips her 16-year-old a new one. That was fun. And gauging the rapturous reaction of the faithful, “Joyful Noise” is undoubtedly a crowd-pleaser you can believe in. Can I get me an amen?
Dana Barbuto may be reached at email@example.com.
JOYFUL NOISE (PG-13 for some language including a sexual reference.) Cast includes Queen Latifah, Dolly Parton, Jeremy Jordan and Keke Palmer. 2 stars out of 4.