Saturday, January 14, 2012

Joyful Joyful I Adore Thee

Diva Catfights and Gospel Music, do they go hand in hand? In "Joyful Noise," they do, and the musical is a lot of fun. If I put my cranky critic curmudgeon cap on, I could find a whole lot of things wrong with the film. The whole story is kind of stale (the let's-put-on-the-show routine is as old as Judy and Mickey) and the plot is too predictable.  But let's not dwell on those, for this Glee- goes Gospel movie is a lot of fun. Queen Latifah (who also executive produces this film) lights up the screen whenever she is on, and add Dolly Parton's bling and you have got a rousing movie musical that is rarely seen nowadays. Technically, maybe this shouldn't be called a movie musical, since it's more a fim with songs as the songs do not forward the plot, but the musical numbers are all entertaining and energetic that the afternoon crowd I saw it with started clapping in beat with the songs. Clearly, director Todd Graff knows how to please the crowd.  When Queen L and Dolly P square off, the jokes may be middling, but these gals sell 'em lik ethere's no tomorrow, and you just cannot help but laugh. I could watch these two bicker and banter for hours. Graff devotes equal time to he love story between Keke Palmer and Jeremy Jordan. I praised Mr. Jordan when I saw him on Broadway on "Bonnie and Clyde" and he is just as good here, proving he is a legitimate triple threat, and he has great screen presence to boot. The film may seem overly long because of the musical numbers, but it's all worth it, especially the finale. And the songs are great. Sure there seems to be karaoke renditions on some of them ("Man In The Mirror," for once) but both Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton get solo dramatic musical arias: Ms. Latifah's soulful "Fix Me Jesus," and Ms. Parton's self-penned "To The Moon And Back," which made me cry. I actually would love the soundtrack to this film, especially the songs Parton wrote. In the end, I was grinning from ear to ear as I exited the theater, and I thought this movie fitting to be seen on the weekend celebrating the legacy of Martin Luther King. Joyful, joyful, I adored it!

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