Joyful Noise (2012) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies
14Jan/122

Joyful Noise (2012)

"Soon, we will break the leetle cheeeldren."

Danny has missed out on the opportunity of a lifetime for his "Films of Faith" series and I am the lucky one.  It is I who have braved the breasts of Dolly Parton and the sass of Queen Latifah through scenes of biscuit flinging and the sexual morays of supporting characters and the corpses who love them.

Yes, in this film about Gospel singing, we are treated to an entire subplot which features one character quite literally screwing another to death.  This is a bit at odds with the biscuit flinging and praying, but that really only takes up about a ten minute chunk of the movie at most.  Instead we get necrophilia, strong incest undertones, stalker male characters, insane female ones, and deus ex machina to the rescue.

Actually, I must recant my acquisition of deus ex machina, because that still implies God had anything to do with this film.  Heck, Joyful Noise makes the point itself that God may be completely absent during a speech by Vi's (Latifah) son Walter (Dexter Darden) about why God made him have Asperger's.  Yes, Aspergers, that new go-to movie mental ailment where you can have a character be awkward but still have access to mystical plot-oriented powers.  In this case, Walter is a musical prodigy, but couldn't access those talents because no one has taught him to play "I'm In Love With A Stripper".

Amidst the corpse fucking and Asperger's display, are you gathering that this is a bit of an overstuffed turkey in the screenplay department?  Because if you're not there are the issues with Vi's daughter Keke (Olivia Hill) who apparently hates her mother because she's prettier than her maternal prodigy, and G.G. (Parton) who divides her time between having creepy love duets with her grandson Randy (Jeremy Jordan, who must have shown up on set drunk every day).  This is all before Vi gives her climactic rousing speech where she advises her choir to crush the hopes and dreams of children to fix the economy.

No need to decide on another President, just watch Joyful Noise. The economy will fix itself.

If you know what kind of logic this movie is operating on, please feel free to fill me in.  I'm convinced, based on the editing of the film, this was a Roger Corman styled production made entirely because someone owed writer/director Todd Graff a favor.  All of the subplots appear half-finished and hurtle relentlessly from one disconnected scene to the next.  Think fucking someone to death might be on someone's mind?  Not any of these folks, as after that unfortunate subplot gets through Act 1 of it's structure it's completely forgotten for the next 40 minutes until we need another cheap joke.

As bad as the story is, I'm similarly convinced this is an effort by Graff to show Christians how much they hate themselves.  Aside from the posturing about their faith, not a single tenant is discussed and all of it's followers are horrible Christians.  So even if it's an attempt to show how modern Christianity has forgotten its roots and needs to get back to, I dunno, helping people, it still rewards all of their awful behavior in the end.

Oh no, I'm getting dangerously close to a "spoiler" moment.  Ok, the "good" folks may or may not win in the end, but not before Latifah gets to deliver her strongest lines in the movie where she tells her daughter to "Treat her snores like a Marvin Gaye love song."

It's about here that my mind snapped.

It was that line which did it, not the scene where Parton sings a love song with her grandson.

This film does not take place in any recognizable universe I'm familiar with.  It's incomprehensibly edited, giving the impression editor Kathryn Himoff put a fourth of the film into buckets, shook them, and then pieced together as it fell out.  The screenplay includes gems like the one above and so many other lines delivered by the male cast which makes this sound like one of the most rape-filled flicks of the year (my "favorite", the one where Randy tells Keke he's gonna run off with her to grow a little choir).

"Failure" feels too weak to describe what happened here.  Nevermind our heroic choir team is given sub-Glee material on the level of "Baby Got Book", Latifah and Parton are  two of my favorite performers in existence and what they have to work with is an absolute atrocity.  Most insulting is the economic subtext which indicates, through the plot resolution, that all the country needs is a strong and rich white woman to lead a Gospel choir on a mission to destroy children and all will eventually be ok.

This isn't just a bad movie.  It's an epic train-wreck, not unlike that other movie about trains last year, where I laughed full and heavy at the display of horrors repeating themselves onscreen.  As my face twisted I thought "Can it get much worse than this?"  But a scarier thought came to my mind, "Can it get more entertaining?"

I pray not 2012.  Though based on Joyful Noise, I doubt my prayers are being heard by anyone.

Joyful Noise (2012)
Written and directed by Todd Graff.
Starring Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton.

Posted by Andrew

Comments (2) Trackbacks (0)
  1. Don’t forget the line “tap it and die”

  2. I thought “Wait, what?!” at at least three different times in this review. Wow.


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