When my best friend Danny Dodd saw the trailer for Joyful Noise he said, “John’s going to see that.” He was so right! He knows that I am a big Dolly Parton fan. I also like Queen Latifah. I love gospel music. So it opened today and I saw it, along with Maggy and her mom.
There are several reviews of the movie that are already posted online from professional reviewers. I won’t try to re-do their job, because, regrettably most of them are right. There is not even a quibble among the reviewers. From almost any aspect, this movie is a bust (no pun intended). The big screen is not kind to Dolly, who I beg not to have any more procedures. I hate to say that, because I love Dolly, her music, and what she’s done with her fame and fortune to help others.
But I’m not one to let a bad script, stupid and predictable story line, and a few doofus musical numbers stop me from enjoying a movie. A few items (good and bad) that probably won’t be mentioned in the other reviews that fall over themselves to trash the movie.
*Writer/director Todd Graff has presented a soul-less Christianity in this movie. The young people seem to have no spiritual interest at all, other than performing in a show choir. Two of the unmarried choir members have sex together on impulse with a result I’m sure that was supposed to be funny. Queen has some good lines and is presented as the strong Christian, but also predictably the self-righteous stubborn person as well. Even when the stars look upward during the number, one gets the feeling that maybe the lyrics were written up there…there doesn’t seem to be any heartfelt praise going on.
*There are musical moments that are beautiful and meaningful. Queen’s singing of “Fix Me Jesus” was a heart touching moment. When Dolly and Jeremy Jordan duet on a song called “From Here to the Moon and Back” and she envisions her late husband in the movie (Kris Kristofferson), there is a tear or two.
*Karen Peck makes an appearance and has a big number in the movie. We love Karen Peck and I was glad to see her toward the end of the movie. A nice surprise.
*There are plenty of great voices here. Keke Palmer and Jeremy Jordan are outstanding in their songs. The choirs were fine, but they should have taken a look at the choir in Leap of Faith – which was awesome. Queen and Dolly are proven outstanding vocalists.
*This is not going to go down as one of Dolly’s best movies. She is, after all, a songwriter and singer who is bright, funny, pretty and smart enough to venture into a lot of other fields. In my mind Dolly Parton will likely never top her performances in Steel Magnolias and 9 to 5, in which she starred with an outstanding cast. Best Little Whorehouse in Texas is almost as good. She has been cast in nine movies since Rhinestone, which is evidence of grace and a forgiving public who mostly adores her.
In spite of all of that, I enjoyed it because I wanted to. I tried not to think about the cinematic missteps and was happy to have 90 minutes to listen to music that was mostly really good. Who needs a plot line when you’ve got great vocal talent breaking out into song on the screen?
Joyful Noise is rated PG-13 for some words I wouldn’t want to hear my children saying and a bizarre sex-related story line that is unfunny but played for laughs.
Thanks for reading,