Noises Off – A review of A Joyful Noise

Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah play rival choir directors in the dramedy A Joyful Noise.
Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah play rival choir directors in the dramedy A Joyful Noise. | Source

Summary: Nearly two hours of pretentious choir practice can’t bring this movie back from the lackluster to enjoyable entertainment.

With star power like Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton heading the bill, this movie can’t be all bad, right?

Well, okay, I’ll give you both of them as the real reasons to see this film, but other than that, this is two hours of prattling drivel masquerading as a pseudo musical.

Parton and Latifah are rivals for the position of choir director when Parton’s husband passes away following a fierce vocal competition where their chorus always comes in second. Add to the mix Latifah’s daughter and Parton’s grandson and a number of other secondary characters and what you’re hoping for is a mix of contemporary romance and entertaining repartee.

Instead, you’re stuck with a pretentious offering of teen angst coupled with adult hijinx, all of which add up to a less than compelling story about restrictive parenting and the push to win against overwhelming odds.

I would have been more impressed to see how this chorus could have dealt with the blow of NOT performing in the championship competition when the pastor of the church (Courtney B. Vance of Law and Order: Criminal Intent) pulls the plug. That would have made for some entertaining screen conflict.

Instead we are treated to the teen romance which couldn’t have been more intriguing if the roles had been played by Kristin Stewart and Robert Pattinson. Instead, we get Jeremy Jordan (who?) and Keke Palmer (again, who?) and while both are marvelous vocal performers, the acting could certainly use a tweak or two.

More compelling was the performance of Dexter Darden as Palmer’s developmentally challenged bother Marcus. His character is certainly exploited for plot purposes, but the actor is entertaining enough that we can forgive the use of his illness as an excuse for behavior.

Kris Kristofferson has a welcome cameo as Parton’s husband and, even though his character dies early on, we haven’t seen the last of him. The duet he shares with Parton half way through the film is one of the highlights that made this worthwhile for me.

Overall, though, this exercise in musical futility isn’t worth a repeat reviewing. I watched Sister Act right after this ended to remove the sour taste in my mouth.

I give this movie 2-1/2 out of 5 stars.

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