Joyful Noise: "He Completely Changed The Way The Choir Sings. Who Knows What He'll Do Next"

Director: Todd Graff
Writer:    Todd Graff
Starring: Queen Latifah
               Dolly Parton
               Keke Palmer
               Jeremy Jordan
               Dexter Darden
               Courtney B. Vance
               Kris Kristofferson
               Jesse L. Martin
Rating:    *** 

Release Date: 29/06/2012

The stars of this film, Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton, have both had pretty similar careers, making their way through the movie business despite peoples opinions, and each giving critically acclaimed performances at some point. The both started off with extremely successful music careers, although very different styles, and have since made a name for themselves in the film industry. OK, both of them have had roles that are basically themselves, because let's face it they don't completely become the character's they play, but they do it well, and that's why they've both been nominated/awarded various awards. Unbelievably, it has been 10 years since Parton has starred in a movie, but she's back and Latifah and herself make a brilliant team, an odd team, but brilliant. Joyful Noise is a cheesy and uplifting comedy that makes the audience, and clearly the stars of the movie, extremely happy.

G.G. Sparrow and Vi Rose Hill (Parton & Latifah) are rival members of a church choir in rural Georgia who spend their time just about tolerating each other. When the choir director, and G.G.'s husband dies (Kristofferson), Vi Rose is appointed the new director. G.G., as the widow of the late director, expected to get the job, and tensions heat up between them, resulting in some harsh insults and a hilarious food fight. Meanwhile G.G.'s grandson Randy (Jordan) is in town, and instantly starts flirting with Vi Rose's sheltered daughter Olivia (Palmer), whom he falls for after watching her perform "Man in the Mirror" with the choir; and let's face it, all the best relationships start like that.

The plot is basically a bunch of simple stories strung around each other and leading up to the big final competition, unfortunately the director is unable to really move between these plots with any ease or flow. This becomes pretty irritating, especially in the second act of the film, as all the characters decide to reflect on their own problems, confront the family members they're feuding with and look to the sweet Lord for help, only Dolly Parton, God love her, manages to keep her spark there. What the director (Graff) does manage to do, is create a film that feels like a classic Hollywood musical, sprinkling in songs that push the story forward and build character whilst also injecting some Glee-like emotional moments throughout. Even when the plots are growing tired, Graff films the musical numbers with skill and panache, allowing his talented performers, including many actual gospel singers, to take over with some impressive vocals. There will always be something quite magical about seeing Ms Dolly Parton change the-guy-that-beat-up-Rihanna's song, Forever, into a church song.

When it's filled with that much spirit, you cant help but love Joyful Noise, with it's genuine cheer and cheesy preaching. It remains heartfelt and joyful (HA) throughout, and never fails to make you smile at some point. Parton is a pleasure to watch even now, and she's just turned 66 so I must say Happy Birthday Ms Parton. She still shows off that exaggerated figure of hers, using her choir robes pinned in to show off her bust and tiny waist, her hair teased up six inches, her lips plumped and eyebrows drawn on. It's not the best film out there, but just to have her back on our screens is good enough, and I'm just happy she is back, plus her and Latifah's chemistry is magic. Parton and Latifah aren't in the movie nearly enough (well enough for me anyway), but all their scenes together are filled with sass, and the younger leads make appealing, if slightly bland, substitutes. Joyful Noise is about as predictable as you can get, but it still has plenty of laughs and charming moments, and it ends on a big enough high note that it's easy to forget the bumpier moments that came before it. Go in expecting a cheesy, happy, and simple musical comedy and you will not be disappointed.

Joyful Noise - Trailer