Joyful Noise [Blu-Ray] Todd Graff

Joyful Noise [Blu-Ray] Todd Graff
While there's a great deal of noise floating around writer/director Todd Graff's bloated variation on Glee for the religious crowd, it's questionable how joyful it actually is. Songs by Michael Jackson ("Man in the Mirror") and Paul McCartney ("Maybe I'm Amazed") get the gospel treatment from Keke Palmer, playing repressed virginal archetype Olivia Hill, who's trying to branch out into Mariah and Christina territory despite her choir leader mother's (Queen Latifah) more traditionalist vision of church choir competition tactics. And while they do showcase the talents of Palmer and Latifah, there's an overall canned predictability to the music that's exacerbated by the Auto-Tune component. It's also interesting that this musical theme of breaking the mould to embrace modernity without ignoring tradition doesn't mirror the actual plot of Joyful Noise, which finds Latifah battling Dolly Parton over church choir control in the face of an economic crisis that threatens to derail the musical competition altogether. The overly twee, chemistry-free romance between Olivia and Parton's grandson, Randy (Jeremy Jordan), partially mirrors the thematic implications of the music, seeing as he's the misunderstood bad boy helping a young church girl find her "voice," both figuratively and literally. But it's as strained as the unnecessary secondary storylines involving Latifah's Asperger's-afflicted son and a romantic dalliance where a peripheral choir member character kills a man with her sexual appetite. In fact, everything about this over-long (it's two hours) excuse for a bland musical showcasing is weighed down by the heaviest of hands, relying on broad gags and superficial conflicts and romances to move lethargically from point A to B. Even the inevitable catfight between Parton and Latifah feels tagged on as an afterthought, noting the importance of post-production marketing. Included with the Blu-Ray are some very brief, exceedingly complimentary supplements about the leading ladies and the making of the film, as well as a spotlight on the three songs that Parton wrote, which aren't exactly examples of her best work. (Sony)