Film Review: Joyful Noise
Quality is measured by effort, detail and usually talent. Well there certainly the latter on display here, along with some liberal doses of enthusiasm. Unless you’re Kris Kristofferson, whose Country and Western cred is roped out in a smidgen of bit part as a choir conductor. In short, he flicks his hands at a choir, stifles a cough and is then ushered offstage by Dolly Parton. Next scene, he’s dead. Relax, they dig him out for another cameo alongside Dolly yet again. She sings, he just says the lyrics, that’s a Country legend showing you how it’s done.
An inert Kristofferson here, a typically enthused Queen Latifa here (then again, she is billed as a producer). So much so that the film feels at times like a sum of many parts generated by committee, in this case a premise is swamped vignettes of varying worth. A recurring sub-plot about a choir-member’s ill-fated sex life is mostly worthless, a Footloose baiting romance between and out-of –townie strapping beau and the choirmaster’s (Latifa) daughter leaves no lasting impact. Thank god then for an effective (if manipulative) sub-plot regarding the same choirmaster’s Autistic son, the total culmination of ten minutes of his screentime coming across as much more emotionally honest than a dozen Adams. It’s an odd addition however, whilst it may be a diamond in the rough it is still an element bolted onto a spindly chassis.
The bare bones of a story here are totally uneven. Plot points are constantly cut short, characters introduced and never developed and the film awkwardly dispenses its musical numbers. For a movie with the name of a Gospel contest in its title, so little emphasis is put aside to elaborate on the task at hand (the proceedings devoted mostly to the sturm and drang of the small-town choir’s foibles). At times the film barely feels like a musical, only one scene follows musical formula of song as a character’s expression or internal monologue. Then again, there’s really nothing among a single character here that is internalised. What you have here is soap opera with songs. This needed to be Footloose with Gospel; instead we have a Tyler Perry-lite sermon with some toe tapping. Flaws abound and in abundance, but there is some admiration to be found in the overt earnestness on display here.