The small town of Pacashau, Georgia, has fallen on hard times, but the people are counting on the Divinity Church Choir to lift their spirits by winning the National Joyful Noise Competition. The choir has always known how to sing in harmony, but the discord between its two leading ladies now threatens to tear them apart. Their newly appointed director, Vi Rose Hill (Latifah), stubbornly wants to stick with their tried-and-true traditional style, while the fiery G.G. Sparrow (Parton) thinks tried-and-true translates to tired-and-old.
Shaking things up even more is the arrival of G.G.'s rebellious grandson, Randy (Jeremy Jordan). Randy has an ear for music, but he also has an eye for Vi Rose's beautiful and talented daughter, Olivia (Keke Palmer), and the sparks between the two teenagers are causing even more friction between G.G. and Vi Rose. If these two strong-willed women can put aside their differences for the good of the people in their town, they-and their choir-may make the most joyful noise of all.
Soundtrack: Joyful Noise - (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)
The setting of Joyful Noise is a small-town where the main street used to be bustling with independently owned shops and is now covered in going out of business signs. Time's are tough for the people of Pacashau, Georgia, but the one thing they have, that gives them hope, is the success of their town choir at the Divinity Church. The annual National Joyful Noise competition trophy has eluded them for years; they can never manage to get passed the regional finals and with money being scarce this may be the last year they have a chance. This story of hope that Joyful Noise sings is littered with tragedy, sadness, and an all-around feeling of gloom. While the hope exists in the music the choir sings it is difficult on a viewer to weed through the pain of the rest of the plot in order to feel optimistic.
The two main families of the film are led by none other than Dolly Parton, as G.G. Sparrow, and equally stage-commanding Queen Latifah, as Vi Rose Hill. G.G. is dealt the heaviest blow right from the beginning of the film, her husband and the choir's musical director Bernard (Kris Kristofferson), dies from what appears to be a heart attack. Mark that as tragic moment number one for Joyful Noise. On a good note for G.G., her grandson Randy (Jeremy Jordan) makes a surprise visit to town and with him comes a desire to shake things up at the choir. Newly appointed choir director Vi is not happy about the newest addition of Randy to the choir, nor does she like the attraction between him and her daughter Olivia (Keke Palmer) even if the two of them singing together sends sparks flying. Randy is a wild-card and his spending time with the good-girl Olivia is troublesome for Vi; the way he is able to help her son who has aspergers syndrome does melt her heart. Vi's family is experiencing difficult times as well; because that is how it goes for everyone in Joyful Noise. Vi's husband, and the father of her children, left two years ago to re-enlist in the army. His departure left scars for everyone and a heavy burden on Vi to raise the children herself. The hits keep coming for the supporting characters as well, from losing their family businesses to death in the unlikeliest of places due to high blood pressure. The characters in the film definitely need some joy, as do the audience members who watch all the awful things happen to them one-by-one.
Joyful Noise is full of highs and lows emotionally yet it lacks a coherent tempo to the story-at-large. So many things are being dealt with in a variety of ways and with differing tones it is hard to focus or keep pace with what is occurring. The musical interludes are wonderful, it is the other "stuff" that gets bogged down with overly melodramatic scenarios and made-for-tv style dialogue. Diving deeper into the lives of the characters is a great way to round out the story of a music choir but without the choir being the backbone of their lives, as it never does become in Joyful Noise, it all feels like filler in an otherwise rich musical. Parton and Latifah are wonderful to watch, especially together with their antagonist relationship, and the music is exceptional, it is the story itself that leads one astray in Joyful Noise.
See Musical Numbers.
The music the choir performs in Joyful Noise
is outstanding. The opening scene features them singing "Not Enough Love" and it immediately propels the viewer into a euphoric state of musical bliss. These women and men can sing, and not just Dolly Parton (G.G.) and Queen Latifah (Vi) but Keke Palmer (Olivia) too. When Jeremy Jordan (Randy) joins up things only improve as well. Using modern pop songs to take a spin on gospel music you are treated to Michael Jackson's "Man In the Mirror
," Paul McCartney's "Maybe I'm Amazed
," and some new songs to please fans of gospel music and soon to be fans. The emotions behind the songs as they are performed is phenomenal and may bring tears to one's eyes. The finale is beyond epic proportions, with the dancing and singing combined, making even the least religious person moved by the singular display of emotion this choir feels singing about their religious leader. Joyful Noise
is a great musical, hidden inside of an average melodrama. Go for the music, or just buy the Soundtrack
, either way you cannot miss the musical numbers Joyful Noise
brings into the world.
January 13, 2012