It is to be expected, I guess, that the onscreen combination of Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah would be too insane to result in a decent or watchable movie. Even so, I was hoping for the delightful campiness of something like Spice World, Burlesque, or Josie and the Pussycats--or perhaps all three rolled into one. Shit, I might have even preferred a sequel to Steel Magnolias. But Joyful Noise is beyond the normal realm of trite. And also much, much longer than necessary. Like it could probably be 70 minutes instead of 118 minutes of extreme uncomfortableness.
Set in the fictional town of Pacashau, Georgia (as no self-respecting town would probably want this movie to mention its name), the population is dealt a heavy blow when the church's choir leader, Bernard Sparrow (Kris Kristofferson), passes away. G.G. (Dolly Parton, fake wigs/tits and all), Bernard's widow, expects that she will be made the director of the choir in the wake of her husband's death. Much to her chagrin, the person that Pastor Dale (Courtney B. Vance) puts in charge is Vi Rose Hill (Queen Latifah), a standout member of the church and the mother of Olivia (Keke Palmer), the strongest singer in the choir. This is, perhaps, the only plot that should exist in the movie, apart from the whole Capulet/Montague type love story that exists between Olivia and G.G.'s roguish grandson, Randy (Jeremy Jordan). But, for some reason, writer-director Todd Graff (who also wrote and directed the 2003 film Camp, one of the greatest camp movies ever, both kitsch-wise and literal camp-wise) felt the need to pepper the story with strange, nonsensical subplots.
Take, for example, the tryst between choir members Earla (Angela Grovey) and Ang Hsu (Francis Jue) that results in Hsu having a heart attack and Earla being pigeonholed as the woman who kills men during sex. And then this other awkward and frivolous plot involving one of Olivia's admirers in which he follows Randy and Olivia's brother, Walter (Dexter Darden, who I'm not really convinced gave a favorable portrayal of someone with Asperger syndrome), to a deserted body of water for no apparent reason other than to be creepy.
Other sources of agony in Joyful Noise include the choir singing Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror" and an indescribably bad re-working of Usher and Lil' Jon's "Yeah," in which members of the choir sing lyrics like, "Now God and I are the best of homies." The good news is, if you are able to be resuscitated after this film, then there is nothing you can't survive.