The good news here: the one and only Dolly Parton. The bad news: everything else....
Warner / 118 Minutes / 2012 / Rated PG-13 / Street Date: May 1, 2012
Dolly, this one's for you. At DVDFile, we have a five-star system, and there's no question that in the case of Joyful Noise, she is the sole reason for one-and-a-half of them. In theory, this gospel-singing competition film wants to have the get-up-and-go of Sister Act and the Lifetime channel street smarts of Burning Down the House, but really, it's just a mess, a movie about soulful music without soul of its own.
We open with choir director Bernie Sparrow (Kris Kristofferson) kicking the bucket. HIs widow, G.G. (Dolly), of course has difficulties with this, but part of her spirit and worldly desire is to get to the national choir competition and win the thing, and even with her better half out of the picture, she wants to hold on to this dream. But her pastor informs her at Bernie's funeral, that he's going to hand the reigns of choir practice to Vi Rose (Queen Latifah), and not G.G.
So Joyful Noise welds the in-house shakiness of G.G.'s woman scorned and Vi's sassy freshness with that tried-and-true narrative arc of a gang of folks chasing wishes, trying to make it to the top. Bright colors and pretty music line almost every scene in this woefully overlong comedy/drama - in this capacity, the thing is just fine - but there is truly nothing underneath of the artifice here: there's nothing joyful about this Noise.
But I pump my brakes on what might be a lambasting tirade and instead focus on the immense genius that is Dolly Parton. Always lovable - hell, she even made Rhinestone work (well, kind of...) - her chipper, unbridled optimism in Joyful Noise is its saving grace. All other facets of the movie fall to pieces behind her, but as long as Dolly's at center stage ready to either crack a joke or break into song, this monstrosity has nominal (albeit fleeting) charm.