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Monday Popcorn: Joyful Noise
Jan 16, 2012

Well hello movie enthusiasts. Welcome back to Monday Popcorn. I am not Lacey Hawkins the previous movie blogger, but I think you’ll like me. My name is Raven Hearton, and I am somewhat of a self-proclaimed, movie obsessed, pop-culture know-it-all. Whenever my friends want to know when a movie is coming out or who is in it, they ask me, and if I don’t know then I’m gonna find out. I’m not Ebert and Roeper (I hope you know who they are), but I do have an opinion and I just want you all to be well-informed about what’s playing at the movies before you fork over your $8. Let me also say that this is my first time blogging anything, so take it easy on me and let’s have fun talking about movies together.

This Friday night, I decided to go against my better judgment and I went to see Joyful Noise, starring Dolly Parton, Queen Latifah, Keke Palmer and newcomer Jeremy Jordan. (Click here for the trailer.) This movie goes against my better judgment for the simple fact that I really hate musicals or movies with a lot of singing. While watching Dreamgirls, I fast forwarded through most of the singing. High School Musical made me want to pull my face off and rip off my ears and I avoid most Disney movies. I invited my friend Rachel, who happens to be an avid musical fan, to come with me because I didn’t think I could handle it alone. With that said, Joyful Noise was a huge risk, but it surprised me. I’m getting ahead of myself, so let’s discuss the plot first.

The movie takes place in Pacashau, Ga., a town collapsing because of the recession. The movie focuses on the Sacred Divinity Choir led by newly appointed director, Vi Rose Hill (Latifah). This is much to the dismay of G.G. Sparrow (Parton), the choir’s main financial supporter, who feels she is just as worthy of holding the position. At the center of the choir is Vi Rose’s very talented 16-year-old daughter Olivia (Palmer) who along with the rest of the choir feels they need to go in a more modern direction. During rehearsal one day, in walks Randy Garrity (Jordan), the grandson a G.G. and a young man known for getting into trouble. Immediately, Olivia and Randy make a connection, and so begins the classic tale of the good girl falling for the bad boy. In addition to his bad boy swagger (yes I said swagger), Randy is also musically talented and takes to Olivia’s younger brother Walter, who has Asperger’s syndrome, and teaches him to play the piano (this is really just a ploy to spend more time with Olivia).

Throughout the film, we see other characters struggling to stay afloat in the down economy and to find love. Love can kill in this movie, but you’ll have to go watch to know what I’m talking about. We also see Vi Rose caring for her children as a single mom despite the fact she is married. Her husband apparently went back to the army to help support the family, but there seem to be underlying reasons for his departure.

The choir is also struggling. Without a new sound, they lose at regionals and their pastor threatens to stop supporting the choir, but in a twist of fate, they get another chance. That’s all I’m going to tell you about the plot, you’ll have to pay to see the rest, but you should probably see what I have to say about it first.

While the noise was joyful, some of the acting was not-so-good. In efforts to give the characters a very specific kind of on-screen identity, I think the acting was a bit over the top. Randy is just a little bit too smooth for my taste, Vi Rose is a little too bitter and Olivia is a little too rebellious. At one point she says her mother she is jealous of her because she is pretty. All I could think was, if I told my mother that I thought she was jealous of my beauty with all the attitude Olivia was giving her mom, she would probably break all my teeth. But this is a movie, so no teeth were broken. The movie also features a pitiful fight scene between Vi Rose and G.G. that is not even worth calling a fight scene. It was more of G.G. throwing rolls and noodles while Vi Rose criticized her very obvious plastic surgery procedures.

As I mentioned earlier, this movie surprised me because I actually enjoyed the singing more than the acting. This has never happened, and I know several people who will confirm this fact. With renditions of Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” and Stevie Wonder’s “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours,” the movie won me over.

So, on a scale of one to 10, with one being why was this movie even made and 10 being I hope I have another $8 so I can watch it again, Joyful Noise gets a 6.5. This is mostly thanks to the amazing musical talent and the presence of Dolly Parton, not because her acting was so good (because she a little too wise-cracking rich lady), but because I have been wanting to see her in another starring role and seeing her just makes me want to go watch Steel Magnolias.

I wouldn’t pay $8 to watch it again, but I might watch it one day when it finally makes it to HBO or when I have nothing to do and there aren’t any good Lifetime movies on.

That about does it for this one my fellow movie-goers. Thanks for your time. Visit me here next week where I might just go Haywire or get Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (those are movie titles in case you didn’t know). If you have any comments or movie suggestions feel free to leave them here. Until next time!

-Raven Hearton

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