Echo..echo…echo… Honestly, is there anyone out there even reading this? I cannot think of one person that the trailer for this movie appeals to.
I get it, they saw the success of GLEE and wanted to double dip in that cash cow driven by 14 year old schoolgirls and their sexually repressed mothers desperately seeking to bond with their kids. But I’ll let you in on a little secret…
With the rash of feature length, high budget musicals lately it was only a matter of time before some guy said, ” HEY, lets make a musical taking the best parts from my two favorite films, Sister Act 2 and Bring It On.”
The result is Joyful Noise. A story of a small Georgia town fallen on hard times. Despite the store closings and foreclosures, the town’s pride and joy rests solely on the local church choir that annually loses in the regional finals of a national gospel singing tournament.
Apparently no high school football or basketball, because the town incorporated God into every aspect of daily living, and the church choir means everything to them. Especially for the two families the film chronicles.
No, not the Tebows. This movie is about singing.
G.G. (Dolly Parton) still grieving her husband, who croaked in the opening scene, takes on her grandson, Randy (Jeremy Jordan) a rebellious, young school dropout with a heart of gold and a passion for singing and dancing. Randy quickly falls head over heals for his childhood friend Olivia (Keke Palmer), who just so happens to be the daughter of Vi (Queen Latifah) who is always bumping heads with G.G.
Vi is raising two kids, Olivia and her autistic brother Walter (Dexter Darden) while her husband decides to fight in a war rather than live with Vi, because she is a very controlling, god fearing southern woman (even though he is merely stationed a short drive away from his family).
Meanwhile, Randy joins the choir to pursue his forbidden love for Olivia, and inevitably spices up the small town church with inspirational pop songs instead of the traditional gospel they are used to.
Predictably, the dramatic family tension comes to a boil, only to subside with all loose ends conveniently resolved just moments before the big number at the national championship.
Don’t be afraid of the guy in back center. He isn’t going to hurt you.
I can see how fans of musicals will like this. I went in with the absolute lowest expectations, and found myself entertained at certain scenes (although outshined by the boredom!)
The music was enjoyable; it turned this lightly dramatic movie into a music video at times and helped move the movie along. Similar to running on a treadmill at the gym, you don’t want to be there, but you tough it out for one more song, then another, and before you know it, you’re all done.
The acting was decent also. It was surprising to see Queen Latifah as a versatile, respectable, lead actress. When did that happen? Is this the same overalls-wearing Latifah that would yell at me about “U.N.I.T.Y. You aint a bitch you a ho!”? When the Fresh Prince decided to give serious acting a bid, he changed his name to Will Smith. I’m surprised Queen Latifah stuck it out, holding onto the “Queen” implication.
“U.N.I.T.Y. You aint a bitch you a ho! That’s a unity.”
I feel guilty commenting on this, because I’ll bet anything Dolly Parton is the nicest person on earth in real life, but for the first 15 minutes of the film I thought I walked into the wrong theater and caught a movie I was dying to see…
Boy, Janice sounds a lot like Dolly Parton…WAIT, IT IS DOLLY!
I guess you can’t blame Dolly for joining the ever-growing group of aging famous ladies who seek the fountain of youth at the end of a knife. Lip injections, face lifts, botox… she ends up looking like an Asian sex doll of her former self. Why not just make silicone masks of all women when they are 20 so they can wear them when they hit 50, isn’t that what they are going for anyway? I was so distracted by her face that I forgot to check out the rack that made her famous in the first place.
It was difficult to read Dolly’s emotions in this film. Was she even sad when her husband died? She didn’t cry, but maybe that’s because she can’t. Her surgeon should have built the Titianic, no leaks in that plastic.
The “Laugh Out Loud” moments the preview promised me were a straight out lie. Although I found it “watchable” I barely cracked a smile at all the failed attempts at humor. I’ve had my fill of southern quips, “my daddy done told me” and “fox is in the henhouse” analogies back in sixth grade. The southern twang is just a turn off for me. Perhaps this is just too bold of an opinion, but when everyone sounds like Brer Rabbit, I tune out.
“Please don’t throw me in dat dar briar patch!”
It’s called Joyful Noise, so enough with the slow, sad songs. At least the upbeat songs help pass the time quickly. Why does everything need to be a song anyway? That’s not real life, it’s corny and annoying. I think next time when the kids are all hopped on on Cocoa Puffs and the wife is in the pantry crying from postpartum, I think I’ll belt out a ballard that helps relay my emotions of the scene. I’d be divorced by Tuesday.
Do towns like this really exist? I understand in the south that the gospel and church rule all. After all the USA was founded on religious refugees that wanted a stricter environment. The town reminds me of Footloose, where the reverend might as well have been the mayor, and the townspeople clung on to every literal word. Isn’t that how suicide bombers are made?
Parenting 101: DO NOT strap bombs to your children because someone told you to!
The elderly couple I shared the theater with that clapped during the end credits will strongly disagree with me. But we were, after all, the ONLY people in the theater on it’s opening day. The majority of us will not see this movie, but those that like gospel and choir movies (are there any others?!) will enjoy this one. Luckily for me, halfway through this movie my bad knee pain started acting up and it was a welcomed distraction.
Bonus Drinking Game
Take a Drink: anytime you hear a “my mama always said” reference
Take a Drink: anytime you hear a metaphor involving animals used as parental advice
Take a Drink: every time they remind you that Walter is different
Down a Shot: “Tap it and Die Girl” Ummmm Hmmmm
Down a Shot: if you forgot to check out Dolly’s rack because you never got past her face