Good golly, Miss Dolly – I loved it! Joyful Noise is so bad it's a joy to watch
00:01 GMT, 29 June 2012
JOYFUL NOISE (PG)
Verdict: So bad, it's great
This was a good week for people called Todd. Writer-director Todd Graff’s first film was the aptly titled Camp, and his second was another high-school musical, Bandslam.
He has finally graduated to make the corniest film of the year so far, and one of the most enjoyable.
It’s a weird mixture of Christian philosophisin’, inter-racial romancin’ and women bitchin’. Imagine if Graham Norton had written Sister Act. Well, it’s camper than that.
Scroll down for the trailer
On song: Dolly Parton as G.G. Sparrow, Keke Palmer as Olivia Hill, and Queen Latifah as Vi Rose Hill
Kris Kristofferson has sufficient good taste to drop dead of a heart attack in the opening minutes.
He’s the director of a strapped-for-cash gospel choir, and the conservative church pastor (Courtney B. Vance) replaces him not with Kris’s sparky widow, G.G. Sparrow (Dolly Parton), but with smug, sanctimonious nurse Vi-Rose Hill (Queen Latifah), who when she ain’t nursin’ is a-bitchin’ about G.G.
Each battling diva gives as good as she gets. ‘You’re 40, goin’ on a hundred,’ G.G. tells Vi-Rose. ‘I’m old’ asks Vi-Rose. ‘You read the Bible to reminisce.’
How much you enjoy the movie may well
depend on how long you can bear to look at Ms Parton, whose experiments
with cosmetic surgery have left her looking in close-up like a cross
between Joan Rivers and Donald Duck. She still sings well, though, and
knows how to deliver a withering put-down as if she’s only just thought
Singing the right tune: Keke Palmer as Olivia Hill gets advice from G.G. Sparrow player by Dolly Parton
While the older ladies deliver stinging insults like transgendered Simon Cowells, G.G.’s white grandson (Jeremy Jordan) and Vi-Rose’s black daughter (Keke Palmer) fall in love politely like a PG-rated Romeo and Juliet. Curiously, no one makes the point that he’s obviously in his mid-20s while she’s only 16.
They can certainly sing, although their taste in music seems a tad irreligious. His version of Paul Mc-Cartney’s secular Maybe I’m Amazed is turned into a dubious tribute to God with the addition of meaningful glances to the heavens and fingers pointed in the general direction of the Almighty.
Will G.G. and Vi-Rose sink their differences so that the choir can defeat the Our Lady of Perpetual Tears church choir in L.A.’s annual Joyful Noise contest Well, what do you think
It would be easy to sneer at the film’s deficiencies. Among them are an inexplicable failure to explain why G.G. and Vi-Rose dislike each other in the first place. Every problem in the film — from racial tension to Asperger’s syndrome — is resolved much too neatly. But I enjoyed it a lot. The singing is great, even if the choreography suggests less a love of God than an addiction to trashy exhibitionism.
Some of the numbers — such as Keke Palmer’s take on Michael Jackson’s Man In The Mirror and the rival choir’s That’s The Way God Planned It — are great cover versions.
In the end, it’s impossible to resist the film’s exuberant high spirits.
Now watch the trailer