(NEW YORK) — If Tim Tebow and Fox’s Glee had a baby, it would be Joyful Noise.
Of course, Tebow is a technically-flawed, Bible-thumping quarterback for the Denver Broncos with an uncanny knack for rallying his team, while Glee has yet to live up to the promise of its freshman season but retains the talent to entertain, no matter how mind-numbingly insipid and forced the storylines have become.
And that’s essentially your review of Joyful Noise.
OK, fine, some details. Queen Latifah plays Vi Rose Hill, a newly-minted church choir leader who’s charged with leading her group to the “Joyful Noise” national singing finals. As she works, she keeps a close eye on her 16-year-old daughter, Olivia, who’s also in the choir and has her eye on Randy, the faux Hell-raising grandson of fellow choir member G.G. Sparrow, who’s played, at times awkwardly, by the legendary Dolly Parton. Watching Dolly Parton try to execute hip-hop choreography is like watching, well, Dolly Parton try to execute hip-hop choreography. C’mon — really? Dolly Parton is a national treasure, but sometimes treasure is best left in the, um, chest.
Vi Rose and G.G. are rivals but the tension between them is laughable, thanks largely to bad writing and directing …
You know what? Forget it. Here’s what you need to know: the strength of Joyful Noise is its musical numbers. Parton still sings like a country angel, Latifah reminds us that she has an excellent voice, and Keke Palmer (Olivia) and Jeremy Jordan (Randy) demonstrate that they have promising futures. Still, as fun as some of the performance scenes are, the songs don’t stick in your head.
I wish Queen Latifah chose better films. She has moments in Joyful Noise that remind us why she earned an Oscar nomination for her work in Chicago, but those moments are wasted in a movie that seems like the collaborative effort of a sassy parochial high school screenwriting class.
Two out of five stars.
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