Have you ever had a peanut butter and potato chip sandwich? You can see how the flavors would compliment each other, right? It's not inherently disgusting, so the idea of eating it might seem well within the realm of possibility. But now imagine that you tried to fix one in the dark and ended up accidentally making a Potted Meat Food Product and fermented salmon-head sandwich insteadand what you end up with is Joyful Noise. Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah going head-to-head in a movie together should have been a contender for the Sassiest Movie of 2012, but the result was soulless.
There's almost enough here to please anyone who is determined to enjoy this film. They have plastic surgery jokes, chats with autistic children, men in military uniforms, and songs that you recognize sung by people who definitely have pipes. But somehow it seems like a lot got cut out of the final product--like maybe the entire thing. All that survives are snippets of poorly explained moments that never feel genuine enough to stir any kind of real emotion.
Fellow choir members Vi Rose (Latifah) and G.G. (Parton) hate each other. Why, you ask? Silly you for being so inquisitive--writer/director Todd Graff didn't want to worry our pretty little heads with all that information. All you need to know is that Vi is uptight and G.G. donates lots of money to the church. Vi's daughter Olivia (Keke Palmer) and G.G.'s grandson Randy (Jeremy Jordan) can both sing, and occasionally like to sing into each other's mouths, much to Vi's dismay. Things aren't going great with the choir--their arrangements are more lackluster than the script. Together, through the wonder of screaming and punching, everyone finally pulls a music extravaganza out of the air that is like someone from the MTV Music Awards became a born-again Christian and hired a cover band to perform at a Texas super church.
Oh, and an Asian guy dies the morning after having sex with an African American lady, but luckily she does the splits in front of another Asian guy later and they hook up.
(Note: I actually can't offer you any more explanation about that last statement than I already did. Another small detail they deemed not important to elaborate on.)
This movie ends up on the list of Saddest Coulda-Shoulda-Wouldas. Perhaps if they had dropped a few strange and shallowly written subplots and instead focused on rounding out characters played by talented performers, it would have resulted in a movie that makes you actually feel something. Wasn't this supposed to be a movie about a gospel choir? The only time I felt like giving praise was when the credits rolled.