A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that, overall, Joyful Noise is more wholesome than not, despite some swearing (including "s--t" and "bitch") and sexual content (kissing/making out; implied sex between adults). Set in a struggling Georgia town where the only thing giving residents hope is a church choir on the way to the regional sing-off, the movie also has some moderate conflict between choir members, a fist fight that leaves two teens bloody and bruised, and angry confrontations between a teenage girl yearning for independence and her mother, who wants to protect her. But the characters generally want the best for each other, and the movie's underlying uplifting messages are about faith and spirituality.
What's the story?
The Pascashau Divinity Church Choir is on the way to the regional sing-off championship, but there's dissension in the ranks. Newly appointed director Vi Rose (Queen Latifah) insists on sticking to the tried-and-true spirituals, but rival G.G. (Dolly Parton) wants to add some more modern sounds. The conflict gets even more heated when G.G.'s grandson, Randy (Jeremy Jordan), comes to visit and is immediately smitten with Vi Rose's teenage daughter, Olivia (Keke Palmer). Will they work out their differences before the big competition, or will their messy conflicts undermine the choir's performance?
Is it any good?
If JOYFUL NOISE had just been a concert film -- rather than a hybrid struggling for cohesion -- it would have been a great movie. It's feel-good, and the uplifting song-and-dance numbers are great. But the movie falls flat with messy storytelling and edits, lack of focus, and a case of too-many-plotlines-spoil-the-broth-itis. It clearly means well, but it's predictable and cliched.
Which is a shame, because the cast has so much potential. Queen Latifah completely sells her role as a single mom who can express everything she feels with a nod and a shrug, and Parton is (as always) fun to watch as a folksy spitfire who loves to speak her mind. Newcomer Jordon also stands out, with a strong singing voice and a natural way with the camera. Too bad the script doesn't give any of them enough to work with.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Joyful Noise's messages. What do you think filmmakers want audiences to take away? How can you tell?
Are the characters (particularly the teens) believable? Do you think their decisions are relatable?
Talk about the relationship between Olivia and her mother. Why are they fighting? Is it possible they're both right?
- In theaters: January 13, 2012
- On DVD or streaming: May 1, 2012
- Cast: Dolly Parton, Kris Kristofferson, Queen Latifah
- Director: Todd Graff
- Studio: Warner Bros.
- Genre: Comedy
- Topics: Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, Great Girl Role Models, Music and Sing-Along
- Run time: 118 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: some language including a sexual reference
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.