EW Movie Review: "Joyful Noise"
Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah star in the gospel-meets-"Glee" musical "Joyful Noise." Entertainment Weekly critic Owen Gleiberman filed the following review.
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"Joyful Noise" is a squeaky-clean pop-gospel fairy tale featuring Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah in canned catfights. The movie reflects the inspiration of "Glee" and God, in about that order.
The "Glee" side, at least in my book, doesn’t exactly amount to a recommendation, but it does mean that the movie’s musical numbers are catchy and rollicking and, in their bright sunshiny way, rather soulful.
In the small town of Pack-a-shaw, Georgia, times are hard, but the Divinity Church choir has lifted local spirits by rising to become a semifinalist in the National Joyful Noise Competition.
Can these spunky vocalists go the distance? Not until they learn to work together in harmony. Which means that Latifah, as the choir’s new director, has to stop feuding with Parton, widow of the former choir leader, over the direction of the group’s music.
Parton now looks like a "Spitting Image" puppet — the movie makes plastic surgery jokes about her so that you don’t have to — but she still has a way with those corn pone one-liners.
"Joyful Noise" also finds room for a teenager with Asperger’s syndrome who loves one-hit-wonder songs who needs to learn to love himself. There's also romance between Parton’s grandson, played by Jeremy Jordan as the new songbird on the block, and Latifah’s daughter, played by Keke Palmer. These two are pretty, and as bland as balsa wood.
But each time the innocuousness starts to get to you, you’re woken up by a kid-choir rendition of Billy Preston’s “That’s The Way God Planned It,” or a swooning “Maybe I’m Amazed” duet. These numbers create a deep river of feeling, even when stuck in the shallow banks of a movie like this one.