Movie review – Songsheet short a few notes

2012-04-13 09:18

Like a song that’s missing the second verse and half of the chorus, Joyful Noise lurches along in a confused fashion, leaving audience members trying to make sense of the messy results.

If anyone gets the benefit of the doubt in this disaster, it’s writer-director Todd Graff, whose previous film, Bandslam, shows him to be an excellent crafter of musical numbers and realistic teen romance.

His new film, unfortunately, bears the mark of a movie that’s been taken out of its creator’s hands.

Case in point: This is a movie about a gospel choir from small-town Georgia, but when they travel to compete against a group from a slick Detroit megachurch, we never get to see our heroes actually perform in the competition.

The choir’s original director, Bernard Sparrow (played by Kris Kristofferson), drops dead before the credits are over, but his ostensibly grieving widow GG (Dolly Parton) barely even registers that she’s upset.

Admittedly, expressing emotion is not Parton’s forte at the moment, given the state of her face.

She’s even given a line about how “God don’t want plastic surgeons to starve’’ or something, one of a dozen ludicrous country-fried aphorisms that not even the usually supernaturally charming Parton can completely pull off.

The story, such as it is, deals with the rivalry between GG and the woman who’s replacing Bernard as choir director, Vi Rose (Queen Latifah).

Their mutual dislike grows more intense when GG’s ne’er-do-well grandson, Randy (Jeremy Jordan), not only falls for Vi Rose’s daughter, Olivia (Keke Palmer), but tries to shake up the choir with contemporary songs and flashy choreography.

On paper, the idea of a movie that appeals to fans of both Glee and Tyler Perry seems like a shrewd one, but Joyful Noise will unlikely satisfy either camp.

For a movie that’s ostensibly about gospel music, there’s precious little of it here, although Latifah does get to belt out Fix Me, Jesus at the piano.

Ultimately, what Joyful Noise can’t overcome is the messy storytelling and a complete waste of what could have been an interesting cast.

Jesus wept.


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