It isn’t going to be up for a passel of Oscars, nor will it be one of those films you’re likely to remember for the rest of your life, but Joyful Noise is still worth a couple hours of your time and the price of admission. It might even lift your spirits and give you something to sing about.
This feel-good film is anchored by the considerable chemistry between Dolly Parton (G G Sparrow) and Queen Latifah (Vi Rose Hill). Flamboyant G G and traditional, hard-working Vi Rose trade some lame (but funny) lines and even engage in a food fight as they try to bring the Divinity Church Choir of tiny, downtrodden Pacashau, Georgia, together to win a national competition.
Keke Palmer (Akeelah and the Bee) as Vi Rose’s melodious daughter Olivia, and Jeremy Jordan (Newsies) as G G’s rebellious but talented grandson are the predictable forbidden lovers who bring the fresh take on music and life that will carry the choir forward.
The high note of Joyful Noise is that it doesn’t pretend to be something it is not. The story is sugary-sweet as Southern iced tea, and the plot as predictable as Miss Dolly is country, but the music and the pairing of two strong female leads gives it some play.
There is definitely a time and a place for a “feel-good” flick, the kind that reminds us that the world can be a better, more joyful place even with its brokenness and pain. Joyful Noise does just that, and that’s o.k.
My rating: 7/10 (on the strength of the music, Queen Latifah, and Dolly Parton)
The movie is rated PG-13 and has a running time of 1 hr. 58 min. Todd Graff is the director.