Joyful Noise may be pieced together with quaint homey adages from G.G. Sparrow (Dolly Parton) and jabs at her obvious penchant for cosmetic surgery. It may repeatedly play the stereotypical underdog choir note and be packed with several bigger than life characters. But I liked it. (Maybe I just needed something over-the-top to get me through January.)
In this case the clichéd writing seems almost purposeful, a way of making fun of itself while providing just enough storyline to introduce the next amazing melodic performance. And after all, what other purpose does dialogue play in the musical genre.
In the story, Vi Rose Hill (Queen Latifah) and G.G. Sparrow spar off as two parishioners vying for the position of choir director after the untimely death of their previous leader, G.G.‘s husband (Kris Kristofferson). Tensions rise when Pastor Dale (Courtney B. Vance) and the rest of the church council give the position to Vi Rose. But with a big competition looming in the near future, the singers have to focus on finding a new sound and energy to help them win the coveted trophy and bring hope to their financially decimated town.
While some sexual jokes surrounding two adolescent lovers and a string of moderate profanities strike a discordant chord in this screenplay, the strong musical performances may make this movie’s soundtrack even more popular than the film. Queen Latifah and Parton’s great vocal deliveries are to be expected. However Keke Palmer, Randy Garrity, Ivan Kelley Jr. and a cast of others prove to be equally capable performers.
Luckily church still provides a refuge and a sense of community for these members (although a couple of singers take the fellowship too far and end up spending the night together after groping one another outside the church doors). For Vi Rose, struggling to raise her daughter (Keke Palmer) and autistic son (Dexter Darden) on her own, performing gospel music also connects her with God. But whether you’re a believer or not, this film’s tuneful renditions make it easy to enjoy this joyful musical experience.