As I walked out the screening of "Joyful Noise" two people - at separate times - walked up to me and told me it was excellent. They [thankfully] didn't ask what I thought of it... they gave me their untrained opinion.


All I can say to them is, I'm glad they enjoyed it; as did several other folk in the audience. This was, alas, the Tyler Perry audience and "Joyful Noise" is targeted to people who care little for the technical or artistic aspect of filmmaking and lean more toward nice music and familiar cliches. And trust me, "Joyful Noise" is full of both.


But for clarification, stringing together a bunch of remotely related songs and jamming some nonsensical dialogue in between is not what makes a film; it's not even what makes a musical. It's what makes for a January release low budget film... and that's it!

The story, if you want to call it that, surrounds a gospel music contest called the titular Joyful Noise and a small church from a small Georgia town that strives to win the title. The church is lead by Pastor Dale (Courtney Vance) who is as conservative as - oh, lets say Reverend Shaw Moore from "Footloose". He likes the old standards and fights newer musical arrangements.


The choir is led by Bernard Sparrow (Kris Kristofferson) who does the smart thing two and a half minutes into the film - he has a cardiac arrest and dies. His exit is faster than Leslie Nielsen's in the original "Poseidon Adventure". Contrary to the fact that Sparrow's wife G.G. (Dolly Parton) is the churches biggest donor and musical arranger, he turns the choir over to Vi Rose (Queen Latifah) who shares his conservative views. There are at least two songs thrown in up to the point.


Vi Rose has a wonderfully talented daughter Olivia (Keke Palmer) who [naturally] wants change. But [again naturally] Vi Rose will have none of that because it's hard being a working mother whose husband re-upped in the Army so he could go back to the Middle East and get away from her.


Moreover, Keke has drawn the attention of every boy in town but instead falls for G.G.'s rogue grandson Randy (Jeremy Jordan) who is up to no good but strangely sings inspiration music while playing the piano and guitar.

The choir's only chance to beat the Holy Vision Church of Detroit Choir lead by a guy who mysteriously looks like Kirk Franklin - is to liven up the songs with newer music.


But Vi Rose will have none of that because it's hard being a mother of two especially when her son Walter (Dexter Darden) has a mental condition that forces him to cite the incidences of one-hit-wonders throughout the film. But by then there have been at least five other songs including a duet with G.G. and her dead husband who doesn't seem to remember the words; possibly because he's shocked at Dolly's several levels of plastic surgery.


Meanwhile Randy steals his mother's Cadillac and kidnaps Olivia so she can see her father who is apparently just over the state line. This incident is of no concern to the sheriff nor G.G. who has a perpetual smile on her face even while she is arguing with Vi Rose about her several levels of plastic surgery.


STOP! Yeah, that's the story and director Todd Graff expects you to pay to see it. Or at least listen to it.


To it's credit, the music - as you might expect with the talent - is quite good and I fund toe tapping at least three times. But the rest is a bungled mishmash of lousy acting, lousy lines, lousy story and lousy camerawork.


"Joyful Noise" is a bunch of unrelated music videos strung together in a non-cohesive order with the hopes that audiences will be so rapt by the music they won't notice the rest of the movie sucks. It does.   -- GEOFF BURTON