Joyful Noise
PG-13
Entertainment: +4
Acceptability: +2

Queen Latifah, Dolly Parton, Keke Palmer, Dexter Darden. Musical/comedy/drama. Written & directed by Todd Graff.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Two women, one a mother of two teenagers, the other a widow of the recently deceased choir director, join forces to save their small-town gospel choir.

From Preview Reviewer Mary Draughon: A Gospel choir in a small town in Georgia enters a national competition despite many obstacles, including the fierce competition between co-directors Vi Rose Hill (Queen Latifah) and G.G. Sparrow (Dolly Parton). The music is lively, the cast energetic. Vi Rose struggles to raise two teenagers, Olivia (Keke Palmer) and Walter (Dexter Darden), both talented and both troubled in different ways. Grieving over the death of her husband who was the choir director, G.G. (Dolly Parton) fights to continue his job. Her talented grandson, Randy (Jeremy Jordan), comes to live with G.G., and romance blossoms between him and Olivia. Over the top, this movie tries too hard. Every character has a story, every musical number outshouts the last. Less would definitely have been more. Nonetheless, the combination of spiritual and pop country music, plus enthusiastic, foot-stomping performances will entertain many. The comical antics of both Queen Latifah and Dolly as they compete fiercely to be the “top dog” add spice to the sometimes not-so-joyful noise.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Well, if you’re going for the great acting or the complex storyline, you may be disappointed. But if you’re expecting Ms. Dolly and the Queen to be in top quip-spotting form and you’re excited to hear some rousing music, most of which pays tribute to the Christian faith, then you’re in for a treat.

There is the occasional obscenity, mainly several s-words, and a couple of comic comments that border between bawdy and trailer park, but overall, there’s a spirit of, well, joy, in the production. I was somewhat put-off by the amount of bickering and the swearing coming from choir members, as well as the casualness with which one unwed couple jumped into the sack (we see them the morning after). But perhaps that’s a reality found in many churches. What pleased me was the fact that despite their differences, the main characters came together, proving that their faith had taken hold, causing them to put others before their own selfish desires.

There are several films now out such as Melancholia and We Need to Talk About Kevin that will test your ability to process doom-and-gloom. And crude comedies and actioneers that go boom abound. So it’s nice to find a film that doesn’t assault your senses, but rather, uplifts the spirit. Joyful Noise is a feel-good, popcorn-munching, toe-tapping pleaser.

From Mary Draughon: It is refreshing to see a Hollywood production acknowledging the church as a very important part of a community. The church choir is the best thing going for the depressed small town where businesses are closing and jobs disappearing. This choir offers hope to the teenagers with musical talent, and a sense of unity and purpose to the depressed adults struggling to keep their families together. Vi Rose is a very strong Christian, a doting mother who is sometimes over protective but always loving. G.G. accepts and loves her grandson even though he has a troubled past. Still, the PG-13 rating should be considered before buying a ticket. The dialogue is spiced with many s-words and other crude expressions among leading church members, although the Lord’s name isn’t taken in vain. Mean-spirited competition, a vicious public “cat fight” in a restaurant, and an unmarried couple caught in an embarrassing and tragic sexual encounter are treated as sources of hilarity.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Warner Bros.

Summary
Crude Language: There are a couple of bawdy sexual remarks.
Obscene Language: Several minor expletives, including damn and hell and pissed-off, as well as seven uses of the s-word and two negative words referring to a woman, but there is also a statement against the use of obscenity in everyday conversation.
Profanity: None
Violence: A fist fight that bloodies a nose, but later the two become friends.
Sexual Intercourse: It is implied that a couple sleep together; some teen kissing.
Nudity: None
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: None
Drug Abuse: None
Other: None
Running Time: 117 minutes
Intended Audience: Family

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