Joyful Noise
Mary Dieng

Directed By: Todd Graff

Starring: Queen Latifah, Dolly Parton, Keke Palmer, and Jeremy Jordan

Color me surprised.  I enjoyed Joyful Noise.  There, I said it.  Now before you throw tomatoes at me and revoke my STMR critic pass for life, hear me out.  I walked into the movie theater with a catchy title to pan the movie already dancing in my head.  While I love Queen Latifah, Dolly Parton and KeKe Palmer for their memorable roles in some of my favorite films (Chicago, Steel Magnolias and Akeelah and The Bee respectively), the movie trailer for Joyful Noise did not entice me.  Any movie preview that includes a choir version of Chris Brown’s "Forever" and the line “Get your Beyonce out of my face” is automatically suspect.  But that silly little “gleek” in me was won over twenty minutes into the film.

In Joyful Noise, a small town church choir in Georgia suddenly loses its director in the midst of a regional choir competition.  Vi Rose Hill (Queen Latifah) is selected to replace the director, much to the chagrin of wealthy southern belle G.G. Sparrow (Parton) who wanted the slot.  Hill is busy raising two teenagers Olivia (Palmer) and Walter (Dexter Darden) while her husband is away in the military.   Sparrow is dealing with the loss of her husband and a wayward grandson Randy (Jeremy Jordan).  Both women love the choir, but have significant disagreements with each other and disputes regarding the direction the choir should take.

A Romeo and Juliet storyline is added into the mix as Randy becomes enamored with Olivia, Hill’s increasingly rebellious sixteen year old daughter. Naturally, Hill does not approve and attempts to put the kibosh on the romance.  Generally heartwarming life changes and laughter ensue. 

While I enjoyed the film, Joyful Noise is not without its flaws.  The overall plot is predictable (i.e. Sister Act and every other struggling choir/singing group film).  Some of the supporting players are a little odd and may need a few more acting classes, and some lip synching sequences are off. 

With all of that said, Joyful Noise contained unexpectedly funny dialogue, surprisingly heartfelt scenes, and some pretty good toe tapping song sequences.  One word of caution — if you do not enjoy movies where actors burst into spontaneous song, this is not the film for you.