By Sr. Rose Pacatte, F.S.P.
Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton play two church singers at odds with each other over who should lead the choir when the director, played by Kris Kristofferson, passes away. When the pastor, played by Courtney B. Vance, chooses Queen Latifa’s character Vi Rose instead of Dolly Parton’s GiGi, Christian charity becomes strained.
The story takes place in a small Georgia town that is economically stressed, but church members love to sing. Vi Rose, who is mom to Olivia (KiKi Palmer), talks to everyone in clichés, until she finally lets loose in a sermon to her daughter about maturity and responsibility. We discover that her husband Marcus (Jesse L. Martin) left the family to reenlist in the army because this was the only way he could support them.
To complicate matters further the choir’s finances are in bad shape and when they lose in a regional competition the pastor tells them they cannot continue. Then Randy (Jeremy Jordan), GiGi’s somewhat wayward grandson, shows up, and develops a crush on Olivia.
“Joyful Noise” is not a great film, but it is high energy and very entertaining. It’s not especially good on moral theology either (one of the lady choir members sleeps with another one and when he dies during the night, she wonders if it is God’s punishment; the pastor assures her it isn’t but he is not particularly concerned that sex outside of marriage falls outside of Christian behavior.)
The plot is contrived to be a Christian version of “Glee”, or a throw back to the old “Our Gang” TV shows when a variety show or a concert would save the day. If it weren’t for Queen Latifa and Dolly Parton, “Joyful Noise” wouldn’t work. KiKi Palmer and Jeremy Jordan have a nice chemistry.
The best part of the film for me was the hilarious catfight that Vi Rose and GiGI have in the local restaurant. The ending is quite moving; I had to get my Kleenex but I cannot tell you why or I will spoil it for you.
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