Blu-ray Review “Joyful Noise”

Directed by: Todd Graff
Starring: Queen Latifah, Dolly Parton, Keke Palmer, Jeremy Jordan
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Distributed by: Warner Home Video
Release Date: May 1, 2012
Running Time: 118 minutes

Our Score: 2.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 2.5 out of 5 stars

I must confess, I do have a sweet spot for Dolly Parton.  Queen Latifah is really hit or miss for me, mostly miss.  It is crazy to believe that both of these actresses are in fact Oscar® nominees.  Unfortunately the film runs way to long at 118 minutes.  The only saving grave for this film is the music.  The productions are fun and quite large but not even for keep my interest for the rest of the movie. I feel that this would have been a lot better running at 90 minutes.  Though fans of Latifah and Parton should enjoy this musical comedy.

The Blu-ray presentation looks great with its 1080p transfer and aspect ratio of 2.40:1. Since the film is all about music the audio is very important and doesn’t disappoint with its DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. Besides the Blu-ray, this combo pack also comes with a DVD disc of the film, as well as an UltraViolet Digital Copy. The special features though are well like the film. There is a brief “Spotlight on a Song” for Dolly Parton’s “From Here to the Moon”. Then there are three also brief behind-the-scenes featurettes: “Inspiration of Joyful Noise”, “Make Some Noise” and “Leading Ladies”. Lastly, there are few extended songs.

Oscar® nominees Queen Latifah (“Chicago,” “Hairspray”) and Dolly Parton (“Transamerica,” “Steel Magnolias,” “Nine to Five”) star in Alcon Entertainment’s and Warner Bros. Pictures’ “Joyful Noise,” a funny and inspirational story of music, hope, love and renewal. 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 heat between G.G. and Vi Rose. If these two strong-willed women can overcome their differences and find a common voice, they–and their choir–may make the most joyful noise of all.

Buy It 5/1/12 on Blu-ray™ Combo Pack with UltraViolet Digital Copy or Download to Own
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Film Review “Joyful Noise”

Starring: Queen Latifah, Dolly Parton and Keke Palmer
Directed by: Todd Graff
Rated: PG 13
Running time: 1 hour 57 mins
Warner Brothers

Our Score: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Whether you’re a regular church goer or just drop by on Easter and Christmas Eve, you can’t resist tapping your toes to the music that rises from the choir. In one small Georgia town that choir is run by Bernard Sparrow (Kris Kristofferson), who has guided them to the regional competition of a national Gospel Music contest many times. When Bernard passes away, the pastor (Courtney B. Vance) appoints not Bernard’s widow, G.G. (Parton) but Ms. Vi Rose Hill (Latifah). Vi, a nurse, is raising two children alone, her husband (Jesse L. Martin) currently serving in the Army. Her oldest, daughter Olivia (Palmer) also sings in the choir. However, she and her mother disagree on her style of music. Vi wants all of the voices to blend together while Olivia feels the need to belt out the occasional solo. Son Walter (Dexter Darden) is a young man who has trouble socializing. He has Aspergers Syndrome and is currently fixated on how many one-hit wonders he can name. When G.G.’s grandson Randy (Jeremy Jordan) returns to town the die is cast for a feel good musical. Or a teen love story. Or, possibly, both.

Uneven in every way, “Joyful Noise” is best described as “Sister Act” done by the cast of “Glee” (minus Blaine, thank goodness). Director Graff also penned the screenplay and has apparently decided that all Southern people speak in metaphors. “There’s always free cheese in a mousetrap but the mouse ain’t happy” is a great piece of sage advice that G.G. dispenses. What it has to do with the story I don’t know. Another gem: “it’s like trying to sneak dawn past a rooster,” which was funnier 30 years ago when Sylvester Stallone mispronounced it to Miss Dolly in “Rhinestone.”

I have to give credit to the cast. They seem to be trying hard and the three young leads give fine performances. Cast as the strict mother, Latifah does her best to avoid playing a stereotypical over-protective parent. Parton, who turns 66 next week, hasn’t headlined a film since 1992’s “Straight Talk” and that’s a shame because her personality has always been a plus on screen. The films strongest scenes take place when everyone gathers and lifts their voices. The songs here are powerful. Gospel fans will enjoy hearing not only Latifah and Parton but Gospel legends Kirk Franklin and Karen Peck.

Musical? Love story? I still don’t know. Neither does Warner Brothers, apparently. In the past two weeks their entire television advertising campaign has gone from highlighting the two Oscar nominated stars to featuring the kids with hardly a mention of the adults. If you like Gospel music you might give it a look. If not, I’ll see you in church.