Ah the musical. From a very early age I was one of those children that pleaded with the others to allow us to fast forward through the dance/song numbers in classics like "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" and "Mary Poppins". I was the one that really only made it through "Newsies" because I had been in a theatrical production of it and therefore felt connected to the songs some how. I think the only reason I loved the Disney classics so much is because I was basically imprinted with them from such a young age that the endless songs were the only choice; there weren't that many non-Disney movies that I watched as a child so they were normal.
Point being: I'm not exactly sure why I always feel the need to challenge this long standing dislike for movies with a large number of song and dance numbers. Sure, we all laughed during "Sister Act" and yeah, "The Muppets" were cute but, honestly, I can barely even handle those. And they had plot! To be fair, "Joyful Noise" did have a plot..it was just SO slow moving that at some points I felt like they forgot the point of the movie and were just filming stuff to fill time. On to Pros and Cons!
Directed By- Todd Graff
Written By- Todd Graff
Top Billed Cast- Queen Latifah, Dolly Parton, & Keke Palmer
Ah the age old tale of the choir competition. Yes, it's basically the same plot as both "Sister Act"s minus the witness protection program but plus a few other angsty bits thrown in.
* It wasn't the vocal performances that turned me off of this movie; actually, the vocals were pretty good. The music wasn't something to write home about but the lip-syncing was good (only noticed somebody being really off once!).
* The very last number. If you could fast forward through the majority of the movie and just arrive at the very last song/dance bit, this movie might just be worth it ("it" being the $1 RedBox rental, of course).
* I'll put this in here just because I feel bad for only having two Pros. The quick quips between Dolly and Queen were quite funny. Most of the time. When you could hear the whole line.
* Casting. I understand that low budget films needing singers/dancers/actors have to scour the ends of the agents' lists for the right fit. However, I feel that there just has to be willing talent in Hollywood more capable or fitting than the cast selected. It's not that they were terrible, really, it was more that most of them just didn't seem believable for their individual roles.
* Speaking of casting, let's just go ahead and name some names (feel free to imdb these names for a full understanding of this point). Angela Grovey & Roy Huang do not fit. There is no way that I, as the viewer, buy that they found eternal bliss with one another in a relationship. It's not that either one was bad..it just was NOT a good match.
* I mentioned the movie being slow in the intro but I didn't mention how long it was. This movie is LONG. There are some films where, upon leaving, you think "man, has it really been two hours already?!". Not the case here. At about one hour in I checked my clock to see if it was almost over. It wasn't. At two hours in, I checked my clock again and got excited. I shouldn't have.
* Those quips I put in the Pros section? Sure, they were funny...but there was such a lack of comedic timing in their delivery that half of the jokes were missed over half of the time. If you, the writer, thinks the audience is going to laugh (which, let's face it, they are), then you need to add a pause in the script or something. Now, listen, don't go yelling at me that that is the director's job...in this instance, the director and the writer are one & the same so he should know how to properly advise his actors.
* Handheld flashbacks. Granted, there was only one, but it was so bad. I can't even take it. Not only were these flashbacks shot instagram style with what was probably a flip camera (no offense to the camera), but they chose to fade to black for an entire 3 count before they brought it back to the actor flashing back. Badly placed and poorly executed.
* Chemistry. There's one scene where G.G. (Dolly) is singing a duet with her grandson (sort of, there's parts where she sings it with her dead husband, but we'll get to that), and at the end I honestly had a moment where I though they just might kiss, and not in the familial way. With other actors, this problem was completely the opposite: no chemistry and they were SUPPOSED to kiss.
* Ah the duet with the dead man. Reminiscing is fine but please don't make me watch over three minutes of it. Waltzing on a poorly lit sound stage singing the same chorus over and over and over again does not endear me to the character or her loss; it makes me hate her and reminds me to never buy the soundtrack.
* Speaking of repetition, repetition. Jokes were warn out and songs over sung. Just because you're highlighting a different angle of an actress on this chorus does not mean I need to hear it all again. Maybe they only had one or two cameras for the whole movie so they had to reshoot every thing from every angle? I'm not sure but man did those songs get old and FAST.
* This next bit may seem out of line and I apologize if I'm wrong here but, in my experience, aspergers is not something cured over night. Not that the person affected in this film was "cured", in so many words, but there were scenes where having another actor "call him out on his excuses" seemed to bring about a very fast change. He went from not wanting to be touched, isolated in facts, aversion to strong lights and loud noises, to singing/playing the piano in front of an entire theater full of people. It just seemed like a very abrupt change.
* If you thought this movie was a wholesome good time for the whole family..you would be incorrect. From using the same swear word six or seven times in a row to using God's name in vain to pre-marital sex to physical violence...I could go on. I didn't realize it was a PG-13 when I went to see it so imagine my surprise during some of those scenes. It wasn't necessarily that bad but it was considering what I thought it was about.
As I just stated, this movie is rated PG-13 and, yeah, it should be. Be prepared to talk about the poor economy and what that might mean for families, aspergers syndrome, "smiting" by God for pre-martial sex, violence as an answer for bullying, plastic surgery, speaking in tongues, and what your beliefs are when it comes to competitions verses being a good example. Viewer beware..
Overall, I did laugh and I did enjoy the final number. However, it was not something I would ever see again (no, not even to make fun of!) or something I would recommend to anyone. 1.5/5 stars.