Joyful Noise

“Joyful Noise” is a full length film version of an episode of “American Idol”, except with gospel choral groups as opposed to individual acts.

Starring Dolly Parton, Queen Latifah, Keke Palmer and Jeremy Jordan, the movie revolves around a competitive church choir that needs to spice up their act in order to get over the top in their annual competition. In truth its an excuse to string together full length music videos, as the surrounding film is wholesome and sanitized to the point of almost being unwatchable.

It’s almost as if they expect that the audience will think something is great just because they include a lot of music.

The central premise, I expected. All you have to do is watch the trailers, and you’ll quickly be able to see that the vocal performances would be central to the film. You know you’re signing up for a string of singing segments, complete with close-ups and crane shots.

It’s not a “musical” per se, though, in the traditional sense of the word. When I think musical, I think of lyrics supporting the story and original songs. These were simply vocal performances of modern songs with lyrics occasionally tinkered with in order to fit the spiritual context.

It’s like they just took a bunch of songs and strung them together.

That much, though, I expected. What I guess I should have figured is that, being a church choir, the movie would have a distinct religious flavor to it. There’s a lot of churchin’ going on, lets say that…

But the aspect of that that I found grating was the sanitized, paint by numbers, insulated moral environment they created for this movie in order to make it suitable for viewing, I would presume, at church. It’s a world where a “trouble” making teen gives piano lessons to a boy with a personality disorder, keeps his hands off the hot teen girl, joins the church choir and is respectful to his elders. It’s a world that’s supposedly so “trying” on Queen Latifah, and I just had to shake my head wishing a real problem on these people. Even her son, who suffers from Asperger syndrome – seems pretty normal and easy to care for, to me.

It’s irrelevant really… the movie is an exercise in getting to the next musical segment.

I suppose there’s some humor here and there between Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah, but the movie is much LESS an attempt at comedy than I expected. I expected that the movie would be a comedic battle between the two of them over the direction of the choir. All of that is essentially boiled down to a scene or two in order to make room for the puppy lover romance between Parton’s grandson and Latifah’s daughter. Kind of like Romeo and Juliet without the fighting, classic writing, or suicides. And of course, lots of Mother Daughter bickering (although the one scene where they really let it fly is undoubtedly the high point of the movie).

They’d actually have been better served really focusing on the transformation of the choir. They don’t. They show the struggles Latifah is going through to keep her family under her thumb, but they never really show the choir moving from point a to point b. They’re lame, rocking side to side and clapping in one place one minute. Then they practice one move (The “Pop”), add a guitarist (which is given 4 seconds of runtime) and then bam. They’re this breakdancing, high production value well oiled power choral group.

The setting was wholesome enough to make Opie Cunningham roll his eyes, the songs weren’t THAT great, and what should have been the central heart of the film – the hard work it takes to organize and produce a high-profile gospel performance – was given a criminally short shrift.

I’m sorry. You can’t JUST include musical bits, and have your audience think it’s awesome.

C

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23 thoughts on “Joyful Noise

  1. I’m glad you included the musical bits in your review. It really made it awesome (the review, that is).

    So this is like “Glee Goes to Church”?

  2. “It’s almost as if they expect that the audience will think something is great just because they include a lot of music.”

    It’s true “they” do think that of their consumers…

    In fact Queen Latifah rolls these movies out quite well. Cheers…

    • Nope. Nope.

      I’m not above a couple of hours and $10 to feed the blog a post. No skin off my nose. :D

      You’d like this one Bruce. Lots of Music in it! (Trying hard to keep a straight face…)

      Snghgt… Bwahhh ha ha,,,, Yeah. LOL. I have a feeling you might puke.

      • I tried to watch Mamma Mia once but when Meryl Streep starting singing my ears starting hurting. Then it got worse, Colin Firth, Pierce Brosnan and Skaarsgard, ugh, couldn’t take anymore. There are very, very, very few actors that can hold a note, the only one I thought close was Amanda in that movie. They probably can sing in that movie but gospel, you’re right, my head would explode like Scanners. lol

  3. What a fantastic music post here. You’re right, Stevie Wonder’s concert on Sesame Street was just about as big as Bob Marley and the Wailers! Although I disagree with you on the Notorious B.I.G. comment there. he definitely did qualify as a “big poppa” more than Elvis did toward the end of Elvis’ life.

    and…well…wait…

    you mean to tell me this post wasn’t about the music? There was something else?

    D’oh! :D

  4. While I did like Glee, the first half of the first season was deliciously dark and funny, it has a lot to answer for. Any time I see anything vaguely Glee-like on TV or film, I have an urge to “blame” the show for bringing us such things to our screens.

    Nothing about this fills me with any desire to see it… I’d rather see a proper musical!

    • It’s kind of funny… the real blame should be on American Idol. Because there’s no doubt whatsoever that “Glee” was an attempt to hold American Idol’s audience after it aired by continuing the singing.

      But “Glee” wound up succesful enough that people want to copy it. I dont know, Ive never watched it, I hate bashing things I havent actually seen, I wind up feeling hypocritical. But I do resent its “effect”.

      • I think Glee made the transition from taking what American Idol was – karaoke singing, and made it into a serialised show.

        The first half of season 1 of Glee was exceptional. It was funny. Had a bit of a black comedy edge to it. But after it got a bit more successful and realised they could make a bazillion dollars out of the music, that’s all it became. Episode upon episode of plots strung together and random musical numbers popping up. *sigh*

  5. More power to you for sitting through this one, dude. The trailer alone had me rolling my eyes. Loved the musical interludes you included — good taste!

    • LOL. I tried to pick a variety of different types of tunes. :D

      And, sitting through it’s no biggie (I mean, yeah, it sucked but…) I’d rather keep the blog thorough than skip out on a little bit of pain here and there.

  6. Ha! Ur Review is hilarious, and we totally felt differently about the film. I guess because I get what the movie was trying to get across than what was actually going on. The singing didn’t bother me, except that I thought that it was unecessary for them to sing each song in it’s entirety from the soundtrack…smh. But I appreciated the musical performances as a whole. This is more of a family movie, and I think any mother who was raising 2 kids on her own, would appreciate it. I think anyone who has lost faith would appreciate it. I also think any teenager having struggles in their household, if they open their mind, would also appreciate it. This movie, in my opinion, caters to an older/mature audience. Its not for most of the people who read you blog. The almost full theatre I was in when I viewed this movie applauded when the credits rolled. I go to the movie alot, and its been a while since I’ve seen a reaction like that. Yes it was super corny, but I still found it delightfully entertaining. Come on Parton & Latifah…u can’t get a mix like that and have it work. Nice review…Stop by and check mine out if you get a chance :)

    • Well, first off, thank you for the nice compliment. I’m always trying to make people laugh around here, so I’m glad you did.

      I would defend my visitors though and say that even though I come across as a wisecracking punk, we actually have a number of very mature individuals around.

      As to the whole single mother thing? I actually thought that that was one of the things that bothered me the most. Its as if they wanted to portray a woman burdened by the difficulties, without actually burdening her with the diffculties. Her biggest problem with her girl was she wanted to date a (nice) boy. Her “Special Needs” son was about the easiest special needs kid I’ve ever seen… I know people with special needs children, Latifah had it easy.

      Meanwhile youre right. The Dolly Parton stuff vs Q Latifah WAS the best part of the flick. VERY enjoyable. I wish they had more of it.

      Thanks for stopping by and posting up!! :D

      • By no means am I trying to disrespect ur visitors, and I don’t think the viewership of this movie has as much to do with maturity, as it does relatability of content. You complain about how they portrayed Latifah’s burden’s, saying that they were too easy. I think we should keep in mind that it is a light comedy and the people in the movie did not want to make it overbearing with hardships. They presented each problem in a lighter perspective, but expect you to take what they give you from there. Anyone with a child with aspergers disease, or any wife who has a significant other away serving their country doesn’t want to come see a movie and cry about the samethings they are laready crying about at home. This movie instead put humor on situations that people can relate to and hopefully will come out with a brighter perspective…Im just sayin…Btw I will def return just to get a dose of ur wise crackin perspective on things ;)

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