Director: Todd Graff Starring: Queen Latifah, Dolly Parton, Keke Plamer Time Out rating:
No doubt emboldened by the diva-pairing deliciousness of 2010's Cher-Christina Aguilera jubilee Burlesque, writer-director Todd Graff concocted this all-demographics-pleasing musical mix of secular sass and sappy spirituality. But thank the movie gods, there's plenty to like in Joyful Noise beyond all the shameless uplift and saucy put-downs. Mesdames Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton play members of the best little church choir in Georgia: Parton's G.G. Sparrow is the catty rich bitch to Latifah's brassy blue-collar Vi Rose Hill, who takes on the heavenly glee-club duties after G.G.'s hubby (Kris Kristofferson) keels over before the opening credits stop rolling. From here, we can grocery-list the story beats: Rebellious teen daughter (Keke Palmer). Hunky new crooner (Jeremy Jordan). Asperger's freakout. Catfight in Denny's Outback Cracker Barrel. 'Oh, snap!' 'Mmm-hmm!' Economic depression. LA choir tournament. Tsk-tsking preacher. Spice up the act! Rally the troops! Boom shakalaka!
Graff never met a let's-put-on-a-show cliché he doesn't wholeheartedly indulge, and you want to simultaneously slap him senseless and praise his name, since the skeletal framework gives the ingratiating performers free rein to do what the title commands. Tears are jerked during the prima donnas' spotlight numbers – Latifah on the soulful spiritual 'Fix Me Jesus', and Parton on the self-penned ballad 'From Here to the Moon and Back' – and cheers elicited in the choir's phoenix-like rise from the ashes (didn't see that one comin'). More stupid movies should leave you with such a blissfully stupid smile.