Joyful Noise, 2012.
Written and Directed by Todd Graff.
Starring Queen Latifah, Dolly Parton, Keke Palmer, Jeremy Jordan, Dexter Darden and Courtney B. Vance.
Two women face off over the direction of their choir as they head into a national competition.
When choir leader Bernie (Kris Kristofferson) dies from a heart attack, second in command Vi Rose (Queen Latifah) takes over the churches choir. This angers Bernie’s wife G.G. (Dolly Parton) because she hoped to be selected as the new leader. Vi Rose wants to keep everything old school and do classical songs for God in their upcoming competition, but they lose every year doing the same old stuff. Everyone else in the choir, including Vi Rose’s daughter Olivia (Keke Palmer) and G.G.’s nephew Randy (Jeremy Jordan), want to take the choir in a new direction doing more upbeat and modern songs. With everyone pitted against each other, who knows how they will do in their choir competition…
From the beginning you can tell that the cast and crew wanted to make a good-hearted movie that also spoke well on religion and doing things for the good of God. I can give the movie a little credit for that. The musical numbers here are quite good as well, except for a somewhat awkward number at the end of the movie. The only problem is that everything else here just doesn’t work out too well in the end.
This movie is very cheesy and tries to add humor in a lot of places it doesn’t need to. If your going to have a lot of humor and dramatic elements in the same movie you have to be able to mix them well. The movie will go from one scene with a bunch of slapstick humor to the next scene which features too much melodrama and it just doesn’t flow well together. It also doesn’t help having so many different stories going on at the same time. We have the choir story, then the relationship between Vi Rose and her kids, the relationship between Olivia and Randy, Randy and G.G.’s relationship, and so on and so forth. They also try to work in a couple stories from smaller characters that neither work nor are necessary.
The performances here do nothing to lift the movie up from being strictly mediocre. Both Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton are at least trying, but they’ve both done a lot better and their performances just come off as nothing special. Keke Palmer is decent as Latifah’s daughter. She’s got a great singing voice and some pretty good acting skills, so I can see her becoming a fairly big actress. Jeremy Jordan is the weak link in the cast here. His cheesy and over-the-top acting skills are laughable, leaving some of his scenes feeling uncomfortable. I do have to mention Dexter Darden, who plays Queen Latifah’s son Walter, a teenager with Aspergers who is very shy and doesn’t get along well with other people. At first I didn’t think he was very good because he seemed a little awkward but as the movie progressed he easily became one of the better parts of it with his performance.
Joyful Noise has good intentions but ultimately doesn’t work because of below average performances, an over-stuffed story and a poor mix of comedy and dramatic elements.
Flickering Myth Rating: Film ★ / Movie ★ ★