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7.25 out of 10
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8.75 out of 10
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10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
8.25 out of 10

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Joyful Noise

Sing A Light Tune

Rated: PG-13   Some language including a sexual reference
Release Date: January 13, 2012
Runtime: 1 hr 57 min

Director: Todd Graff
Writers: Todd Graff
Cast: Queen Latifah, Dolly Parton, Keke Palmer, Jeremy Jordan, Dexter Darden, Courtney B. Vance, Angela Grovey

SYNOPSIS: In an economically depressed town in Georgia, a church choir tries to make it the 'Joyful Noise' national choir competition after losing at the national regionals four years in a row.

REVIEW: Writer/director of such mild musical comedies as Camp and Bandslam, Todd Graff returns with a new script involving a small town choir group looking to better their chances at reaching the nationals of the 'Joyful Noise' competition. Starting off as an actor in the original version of 'The Electric Company' and writing screenplays for such films as Keifer Sutherland's The Vanishing, Graff has gravitated back to projects involving music and musical groups.

After winning a spot in the national regionals for their choir, G.G. Sparrow (Dolly Parton, 9 to 5) spars against second-in-command choir master Vi Rose Hill (Queen Latifah, Chicago) when Vi Rose is chosen by the church committee to replace G.G.'s choir master husband Bernard (Kris Kristofferson, Blade) after his sudden death. Determined to keep the choir's sound pure and traditional, Vi Rose is challenged by G.G., her own daughter Olivia (Keke Palmer, Akeelah and the Bee), and G.G.'s grandson Randy (Jeremy Jordan) for a more modern sound and choreography. Siding with Vi Rose's decisions is Pastor Dale (Courtney B. Vance, Final Destination 5). While the choir practices and tests new ideas, Olivia and Randy start getting closer while Vi Rose and G.G. square off.

Joyful Noise is a mash-up between any one of a number of episodes of 'Glee' and Sister Act. Combining the backdrops of a church choir trying to find a harmonious sound that pleases God (and wins competitions), and the pursuit of a national choir title to give the residents of their small Georgia town something to cheer about in the face of a depressing local economy that continues to erode away at the Main Street businesses and local residents' hope.

Filled with traditional gospel music like the Queen Latifah sung 'Fix Me Jesus' and 'That's The Way God Planned It', to choral versions of Michael Jackson's 'Man In The Mirror', to an uplifting modern musical medley for the final competition, Joyful Noise brings the noise and the joy to screen. As far as a light musical comedy goes, the tunes will make you tap your toes, hum along to the songs you do not know and sing along with the songs you do.

Joyful Noise is mild musical entertainment. The music is good, enjoyable, and sung by talented artists like Keke Palmer, Jeremy Jordan, Parton, and Latifah. Graff throws in a variety of conflicts of the lesser variety, though, and not a true villain to overcome. Vi's son, Walter (Dexter Darden, Cadillac Records), suffers from the now thematically popular ailment Asperger's syndrome, but the audience is spoon-fed Walter's condition more through dialogue than action. Vi's husband Marcus (Jess L. Martin, Puncture) left the family for a second tour of service in the military in order to keep the family with a paycheck. Vi doesn't approve of G.G.'s bad boy grandson Randy getting closer to her daughter. And G.G. and Vi have their own issues of how to run the choir. But unlike Glee, where the high school angst and the pressure of competition provides plenty of conflict, the minor personal pressures and coral competitors of Joyful Noise keep the story from being gripping enough to be a complete winner.

Joyful Noise is decent musical and joyful entertainment. On all fronts, the story is pleasant enough, but the lack of true heightened conflict takes some of the bite out of the tale.

WORTH: Matinee or Rental

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