Ever wonder what “Sister Act” would like look like in a post-”Glee” world? Go watch “Joyful Noise” this weekend and you’ll find out. The musical film starring Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton combines ingredients from the classic film and popular television show to create an entertaining film. Not the best movie I’ve seen, but it kept me captivated for most of it.
The film focuses on a church choir group’s journey to the annual national “Joyful Noise” choir competition. Sectionals anyone? Along the way they face a few obstacles ranging from the untimely death of the choir director, financial hardship facing their small town to internal power struggles within the church choir.
For a film in this genre, I expected it to last in the 90 minute range. Instead, it had a running time of almost two hours. No beuno. The producers would’ve been better served if they didn’t have so stories going in. It was like watching several movies within one. The editors definitely needed to be more cutthroat in the editing room. In addition, a couple of the musical numbers could’ve been axed, especially Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton’s respective solo performances. I get it was probably part of their contract, but both didn’t do anything to propel the main plot forward. That being said, it shocked me that one of the best singers in the movie didn’t even sing one note. Jesse L. Martin of “Law & Order” fame appeared as Latifah’s husband, yet didn’t show off his vocal prowess. If you watched “Rent“, you know Martin has a powerful set of pipes.
Based on the above comments, it seems I didn’t enjoy myself. That would be completely untrue. I ended up liking the film more than I thought I would and so did the audience. At the end of the film, the crowd actually applauded. I can’t even remember the last time that happened at the theaters. To be fair, the audience was the most random (albeit happiest) group of people I’ve ever seen during a screening. It’s like the screening sponsors bused in various church groups from around the city.
My favorites part of the movie were the two young leads. Both Keke Palmer and Jeremy Jordan wowed me with their voices. Jordan has a Broadway background, so that’s not much of a surprise, but Palmer was a revelation. This girl needs a recording contract stat. I’m not an overly religious person, but found myself grooving to the gospel-tinged soundtrack. Most notably the final number performed in the film. It was a mashup, McKinley High’s New Directions would be jealous of. I won’t give too much away, but the lyrical liberties taken on a couple of Billboard Top 40 hits had me literally LOL’ing all over the place.
Overall it was a good time, a little long, but fun nonetheless. The chemistry between Parton and Latifah was fantastic. Too bad the movie trailers showcased the majority of their scenes. The film could’ve used more scenes between these two actresses instead of focusing on the other silly side plots. If you’re a lover of musical numbers, “Joyful Noise” excels in that department and delivers “heavenly” numbers that will have you praising your ass off. I wouldn’t say it’s a must-watch film in the theaters but it’s worth checking out during a matinee or when it hits home video. I find it really hard to justify spending the money to see a film that seems more made for television than the big screen. But if you have money to burn, then check it out. Other wise, I’m sure it’ll be running multiple times on TNT, TBS or a network like that in years to come.
Movie Rating: 3 out of 5 stars