“Joyful Noise” is a musical that missed more than just a few notes.
Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton star as Vi Rose Hill and G.G. Sparrow in a film that chronicles the journey of a small-town church choir as they compete to save the choir’s budget.
Hill and Sparrow are strong-willed women who want to take charge of the choir and its image, and both are relentless in keeping the other out of the position of power.
The two women have very different views of what the choir’s image should be.
Latifah’s character focuses more on traditional, reverent Gospel music while Parton’s wants to mix things up and create more modern arrangements of Gospel songs.
The film showcases both types of music while utilizing the vocal talents of Latifah, Parton, actress Keke Palmer and newcomer Jeremy Jordan.
Palmer plays the role of Latifah’s “church-girl” daughter Olivia Hill, and Jordan plays the role of Parton’s rebellious, teenage grandson Randy Garrity.
The two main characters (Latifah and Parton) battle for respect throughout the film, but in the end they must find a way to co-exist if they want the choir to attain success in the national competition in which they participate.
Palmer and Jordan are also key to the development of the film as their unlikely romantic relationship causes greater tension between Latifah and Parton’s characters.
The soundtrack for the film is made up of different renditions of classic gospel songs and some contemporary pop songs that were altered to have praise music lyrics.
The culmination of this mixture of gospel and pop music comes in an outlandish and awkward medley featuring new renditions of songs by Sly Stone, Stevie Wonder and Usher.
The theme of “Joyful Noise” is hard to follow throughout the movie, and there is a confusing spiritual message that doesn’t quite match up with the way in which several of the characters are portrayed.
The most notable deviation from the gospel message is a scene that portrays one of the female choir members participating in a night of premarital sex with an older male church member.
The older man, who apparently had high cholesterol, did not wake up in the morning, and there was then a running joke throughout the film regarding the woman killing the man.
The strongest scene in the film was when the choir was at the competition finals, and Queen Latifah’s character gets in an argument with her daughter outside of their hotel room.
In an explosive outburst, Latifah stresses the importance of having a strong self-image and belief that God created each individual with gifts and talents to glorify him.
The producers and director of “Joyful Noise” attempted to create an uplifting mix of music, faith and comedy, but what resulted was rather awkward and misleading.
It is a film worth watching, but only once it comes to a Redbox nearby.