Couch Potato’s DVD Pickings: Joyful Noise – full of noise, but not enough joy

Being a diehard Dolly Parton fan, I’ve been waiting to see this movie for ages. Longterm visitors to Movie Talk will perhaps be aware of this even though I’ve not mentioned her in a while. (I actually got banned from talking about her on this blog a while back because the tag cloud was becoming unbalanced – a bit like Dolly herself!)

But, I did first reference the film almost two years ago when launching my Name That Chest strand – obviously inspired by the amazing Ms Parton!  And I’ve been waiting patiently ever since. And now finally it’s out on DVD.

So here’s what Joyful Noise is about:

In a struggling Georgia town, two strong-minded women – Queen Latifah’s hard-up Vi Rose and Dolly Parton’s wealthy G.G. – compete for attention in their church choir. But when G.G.’s choir director husband (Kris Kristofferson) suddenly snuffs it, the pastor asks Vi Rose to take his place – putting G.G.’s nose out of joint (…if it does indeed still have a joint after all the work…?).

Needless to say, the tension grows between the pair, and with a national choir competition coming up, G.G. becomes determined to include contemporary songs into the group’s repertoire – something that seriously winds up her traditionalist rival.

And while these two divas are busy flinging insults at each other, G.G.’s grandson Randy (Jeremy Jordan) comes to stay and complicates things further by falling for Vi Rose’s daughter (Keke Palmer).

So, I know what you’re wondering, was this movie worth the wait?

Well, big Dolly fan that I am, I’d be happy to watch this diminutive dynamo doing anything. So I assumed that I’d love it, but you know what, I didn’t!

Don’t get me wrong, every scene that contains Dolly is a joy to behold – whether strutting across the stage in her six inch heels like a mother hen, waving her false nails aggressively at her co-star, belting out the gospel numbers in that ever so distinctive southern voice, or coming out with her classic Dollyisms (‘Trying to fool me is like trying to sneak sunrise past a rooster’ was my particular favourite).

But halfway through watching this film, I realised that I wasn’t actually following it. I was just waiting for Dolly to appear on screen.

And while she is fab, Dolly‘s not an actress. She’s playing herself. She always does. It’s Queen Latifah who steals the show here acting-wise, but sadly she wasn’t enough to hold my interest .

And that’s probably because the plot is so predictable. It’s Glee meets gospel, which sounds like a compliment, but it’s not because there are no gleeks and there’s no wild and witty dialogue (although admittedly G.G. and Vi Rose’s sparring does rival those fabulous Sue Sylvester and Mr Shue spats).

If you’re a church-goer or into gospel music you’ll probably really like Joyful Noise, but I’m neither, so I struggled. I truly enjoyed just one scene – where G.G. and her grandson sing a song called Here to the Moon and Back and she reminisces about dancing with her late hubby. But it’s not a gospel song – it’s a beautiful love song, obviously penned by Dolly. It brought a tear to my eye and a lump to my throat – but that of course is the power of a Dolly song and has little to do with this film.

So, there you have it. It pains me to be so negative about a Dolly project, but I can’t be dishonest. For me, there was too much church-focused music, too much preachy religious banter, and not enough Dolly Parton. And that’s that – in a nutshell, full of noise, but not enough joy. Disappointing.

Joyful Noise is released on DVD on Monday 5th November, and is also available on Sky Movies Box Office and Virgin Movies.

For a less subjective review of this movie, check out my colleague Jason’s Joyful Noise review here.

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