Hear Me: Why Joyful Noise Isn’t A Bad Movie | Dolly parton
Joyful Noise lives with an outrageous 32% splash on Rotten Tomatoes. This story of a small gospel choir in Georgia did not charm critics, who found it saccharine, too long and ample, its handling of social problems – recession and Asperger’s syndrome, especially – unforgivable. None of these reviews are technically false. It is a portrait of the small town of America rendered in pencil, its colors raw and simple. But it’s so full of both heart and genuinely unbalanced decisions that I come back to it again and again for a healthy dose of well-being.
In large part, this is because of her two sons. If it was director Todd Graff who came up with the idea of ââmaking Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton loyal rivals, then he should have won an Oscar for his common sense. Parton is GG (although she really is Parton, until the aphorisms and plastic surgery jokes took root), married to choirmaster Bernard (Kris Kristofferson), who quickly dies at the start of the film, leaving Latifah’s Vi Rose at the helm. Vi Rose is a conservative petit-c, who wishes to keep the original spirit of the choir alive with traditional arrangements, even though tradition continues to lose them in the National Joyful Noise Competition. GG is a wealthy troublemaker who uses her money to bend the city to her will. When his ugly grandson Randy – and I can’t stress his horror enough – returns to town, he introduces the idea of ââbringing funk and pop songs into the fold and sets his sights on Vi Rose’s daughter Olivia. . Randy is the kind of 35 year old onscreen teen who says things like “Make some noise in that bitch!” to the Church.
Graff has a bold disregard for the traditional storytelling structure. Joyful Noise is like a series of short television episodes, loosely stitched together. He prolongs some plots and abruptly ends others, apparently on a whim. The competitive choir element worked so that Pitch Perfect, which came out a few months later, could run; who knew Usher’s horny club track Yeah! could be reinvented as a respectful homage to the worship of God. For a film that is primarily about doing what’s right and praising Jesus, it’s oddly indifferent to the parameters of taste. A crucial subplot involves a woman who becomes known as ‘Touch Her and Die’ when a one night stand with high blood pressure doesn’t make it until the morning. Instead of treating it as gruesome comic relief, it leads, in a roundabout way, to the romantic climax of the whole movie. It is very unique.
In reality, however, this is the Parton-Latifah double act, which climaxes with a fight at a restaurant halfway through. Any other movie would have put that near the end, but not Joyful Noise. Joyful Noise sets its own rules. GG wants Randy to inject a little change into the choir and basically blackmail the pastor into allowing it, which no one bother to deny or judge. Vi Rose, however, resigns in protest. If you’re not gripped by that point, then this movie’s wobbly charms might not be for you, but at least stick around for the row, which makes RuPaul’s Drag Race notorious reading challenge tame. It’s sharp, it’s vicious. âI am who I am,â GG says. âMaybe you’ve had five procedures before,â says Vi Rose. They trade sharp beards under a shower of stale buns, and then Vi Rose is fired from a job she desperately needs to support her family. It doesn’t matter! The plot happily passes to more singing.
Kristofferson’s character ghost waltzes Parton around a moonlit balcony as she duets with Randy on this earth plane. A snoring argument between Vi Rose and her daughter turns into a stormy speech about the sacrifice of the working class and features the unforgettable line: “You treat my snore like it’s a Marvin Gaye love song. ” When the choir runs into a team of school children, they briefly worry that it is an unfair fight, and then decide to annihilate them, since they are young and “they will get over it.”
I’m not quite sure why the critics found this film to be sweet and sickly. Beneath the surface, he’s ruthless, but he’s also cheerful and triumphant, and his many eccentricities prevail. There’s no denying that Joyful Noise is a mess, but it’s a joyful mess, and I love it.