Stop me if you've heard this one: A down-and-out underdog overcomes all obstacles to rise to the top by putting aside their differences and reaching a mutual understanding, arriving at their destination closer than ever as a team and wiser for the experience.
OK, that's probably not fair. Lots of movies have found success making variations on that theme. But when you clutter that formula with an excess of subplots, clichéd dialog and a treacly message competing for the spotlight, it's no wonder they described this movie as "noise."
In its simplest form, "Joyful Noise" is about a gospel choir coming together to win a national competition and bring hope to their failing and downtrodden little town. Queen Latifah plays Vi Rose Hill, a hardworking traditionalist and overprotective mother. Dolly Parton essentially plays Dolly Parton in the form of Vi Rose's "rival," G.G. Sparrow.
Aside from a few catty exchanges and a minor food fight girl brawl, this rivalry proves stilted, which seems confusing since it's made out to be such an integral part of the story at the beginning of the film. Similarly, the build-up to the big choir competition is decidedly lackluster and at times is merely an afterthought in the screenplay.
Instead, the audience gets to wade through a predictable forbidden romance between Vi Rose's daughter and G.G.'s grandson, as well as a host of other subplots that wander through the spotlight and enjoy almost as much screen time and precedence as the "main" storyline. Are they entertaining? To a small extent; that's what subplots are designed for. But they're filler for a reason, and "Joyful Noise" is a perfect example why. Here they drag on for far too long and drown an already feeble story.
The plot eventually gets around to drawing attention back to the main storylines – mostly by just dropping the extraneous ones or resolving them with as much transparency as a children's book. Even with this attempt at focus, the audience must still suspend their belief (and much of their logic) in order to keep the rest of the story afloat. That is, if they make it far enough to make sense of everything – the movie takes almost its full two-hour runtime to quit switching gears and get to a coherent point, and even then they can't help but muddle things up.
Packed with multiple one-dimensional characters and almost as many distracting plot points, "Joyful Noise" is excessive and unnecessary. The only thing remotely interesting is the music, but even that isn't worth slogging through two hours of messy mediocrity.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Recent Articles & Blogs by Renee Lorenz
Published Jan. 11, 2013
Classic gangsters loved a good embarrassment of riches. And for a movie like "Gangster Squad," showing off is fine. But, when the swanky style of the era meets the stylized swank of the movie's own excesses, things get out of hand.
Published Jan. 3, 2013
It feels like not a week goes by without someone posting something about how Facebook's invading everyone's privacy, spying on your browser history, etc., ad nauseum. (These posts are usually made on Facebook, by the way.) I understand the generic concern over the Orwellian slippery slope, but it doesn't take me too long to re-assess and arrive back at my old conclusion: Who cares?
Published Dec. 31, 2012
Although outsiders may not see Milwaukee as a hotbed for the performing arts, locals know there's plenty of talent to go around. And, there are numerous venues across the city that proudly show off area actors, dancers and musicians. But, despite the wide array of opportunities available, Katie Rhyme and Karen Zakrzewski still felt something important was missing.
Published Dec. 25, 2012
Merry Christmas, "Les Miz" lovers - I'm about to hate all over your musical.
Published Dec. 25, 2012
Well, it took director Quentin Tarantino 20 years, but he finally got his Western ... kinda. Although it's fair to say he's been preparing his entire career with his raucously bloody shoot-'em-ups, Tarantino's time warming up has been well spent if "Django Unchained" is the final result
Published Dec. 21, 2012
Unlike most middle-aged men, Judd Apatow can afford a whole garage of Camaros and Mustangs. So, it makes sense that his mid-life crisis would manifest not with a youthful car buy, but by splurging on the production of a new movie.
Published Dec. 19, 2012
They say time flies when you're having fun. I don't know who "they" are (probably those terrifyingly upbeat "glass half full" people), but they nailed it. My 2012 is a blur of exciting times and memorable moments, most of which my lawyers have advised me not to discuss in detail. There's still plenty to talk about, though, and I've shared the highlights below.
Published Dec. 18, 2012
Well, another year of movies is (almost) in the books. Full of many memorable ups and seared-in-my-brain-forever downs, here's my take on the best (and worst) of 2012.
Published Dec. 14, 2012
Eleven years after "Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" introduced audiences to the majesty of director Peter Jackson's Middle-earth, "The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" makes a triumphant return to the mythical land with a new trilogy based on J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit."
Published Dec. 12, 2012
After being tasked with putting together an actual wish list, I'm legitimately afraid of the death glare I'll get if I hand over my ultra-practical, completely un-whimsical list of stuff I want. So, I'm posting it here.