Movie review: ‘Joyful Noise” soars when it sings, plods when it talks
As long as the exuberant cast of “Joyful Noise” is raising its collective voice in song, this corny but open-hearted gospel glee-fest has the power to stir some souls.
If this were simply a concert film of inspirational pop and faith music with powerhouse performers Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah leading the way in righteous voice, or even a documentary on the real-life House of Blues Joyful Noise Gospel Contest, an online talent search open to anyone that the spirit moves, it would probably soar on its own merits.
It’s only when writer-director Todd Graff’s clichéd tale of warring small-town matriarchs and forbidden young love intrudes on the heavenly sounds of choirs singing that “Joyful Noise” loses its transcendent air.
The hokey, by-the-numbers story is set in small-town Georgia and centers on church choir members G.G. Sparrow (Parton), a wealthy, “glamorous granny,” and Vi Rose Hill (Latifah), a working mom with an absentee military husband. They have very different ideas of how to approach the upcoming National Joyful Noise Choir Competition.
As cutting-edge G.G. and old-school Vi Rose bicker and compete for the gospel upper hand, young love enters the picture in the form of Vi Rose’s wholesome teen daughter Olivia (energetic and tuneful Keke Palmer) and G.G.’s bad-boy grandson (hunky Jeremy Jordan of Broadway’s just-closed “Bonnie and Clyde”).
A comic and solemn cast of supporting players – from Courtney B. Vance as the dour church pastor to Angela Grovey as a lovesick choir member to Kris Kristofferson as past choir master and G.G.’s late husband – dodge in and out of the proceedings without great impact.
Some cynics at early screenings have been quick to dismiss this hybrid musical and comedy-drama as “Glee for Baptists.” But that’s glib and unfair. If the formulaic story of rural American adversity, faith, bonding and triumph fails to inspire (despite some appealing performances), the musical content is almost enough to lift the story above its mundane mechanics.
Message Sent Successfully
Be Sure to Check Out Our Top Headlines
- 13515Oklahoma tornadoes: The 'Big Dog,' the little boy and the hug that triumphs over tragedy
- 10081Oklahoma tornadoes: Cost, custom keep basements scarce
- 9722Finding Addyson – One family's struggle in the Moore tornado
- 8902Oklahoma tornadoes: Plaza Towers Elementary School teacher shoved students into bathroom as wall collapsed
- 6661Miranda Lambert, Reba McEntire, Vince Gill to join Blake Shelton at "Healing in the Heartland" Oklahoma tornado benefit
- 5295Oklahoma tornadoes: Woman meets the military officer who shared the clothes off his back
- 4594Story behind the photo: Family members describe desperate search for one another after EF5 twister
- 4515Oklahoma tornadoes: Sooners bring back some smiles to Sydney Angle's teammates
- 4167Oklahoma tornadoes: 27 remain hospitalized from tornadoes
- 4139Oklahoma tornadoes: Thunder reverses the role, takes a turn at cheering on the community
Back to share with a friend form.
Add More Recipients