“Joyful Noise” Movie Review

Genre: Musical, Comedy

Rating: 4_stars.svg

In the appropriately titled film, Joyful Noise, classic Christian songs like Amazing Grace meld together with secular favorites to create a movie soundtrack that will excite and inspire audiences. A talented cast and comedic script are the icing on the cake for this big-screen musical.

Starring Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah, Joyful Noise is the story of rival choir members, G.G. Sparrow (Parton) and Vi Rose Hill (Latifah), as they fight for control of their competitive church choir. When G.G’s grandson comes to town and takes an interest in Vi Rose’s daughter, the feuding pair will have to learn how to get along if they want to save their families, their choir, and the future of their small town. Joyful Noise also stars Keke Palmer (Ice Age, Scream Queens), Jeremy Jordan (Supergirl, Smash), and Dexter Darden (The Maze Runner, Cadillac Records).

If you’re having a movie night with some of your non-Christian friends, this is a great movie to watch. The production, from start to finish, is feature-film quality. In fact, it almost plays like a secular film that is set in a Christian environment with Christian characters. This is by no means a criticism, just a fact.

Non-Christian viewers should be able to relate to the music in the film because the singers start off singing secular songs, than progress to Christian music, and finally end up singing secular songs that they turned into Christian music. It’s the best of both worlds.

The storyline itself is quite moving. Emotional scenes, such as one where Vi Rose tells her special needs son that God didn’t make a mistake in creating him, are sandwiched between hilarious antics. The emotional journey Joyful Noise takes you on is thrilling! My favorite comedic scene is the food-fight that G.G. and Vi Rose have in a crowded restaurant. I have seen many food-fight scenes in my day, but this one is one of my favorites.

The first time I saw Joyful Noise was in 2012, when it first came out in theaters. Being a child of the 90’s, I was instantly excited about a Christian movie that was somewhat reminiscent of my beloved Sister Act (and of course Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit). That, coupled with my love of Dolly Parton, would have easily earned this movie 5 out of 5 stars at the time. But, it is with great sadness, that I have to dock it one star for what I would call “surface preaching.”

What I mean by this is that it states Biblical truths, but doesn’t go in depth into any one topic. For example, when one of the choir members engages in premarital sex, she wonders if the bad situations that follow were a result of God punishing her. Her fellow choir member assures her that that’s not how God operates and that He will help her find the right guy. While this is true, it doesn’t dive any deeper into the subject. God’s love and forgiveness, or why He says to not engage in premarital sex, are left out of the discussion. This crates a somewhat incomplete picture that can create questions and confusion among some viewers.

But don’t let that keep you away from this film! In addition to the exhilarating musical numbers, the characters depicted are both relatable and entertaining. I found myself laughing at their eccentricities and crying at their sorrow. The cast crated characters you could really root for, which isn’t as common in movies as people would hope. In this regard, I also have to applaud the film for creating a spectacular main character with special needs.

Available to watch on Netflix, Joyful Noise is a movie that the whole family, both believers and unbelievers alike, will enjoy.

What Age Group Is It For?

I agree with the film’s rating of PG-13. It’s not an inappropriate show, but it does use the occasional mild cuss word. One character also sings the lyrics, “I’m in love with a stripper.” In addition, the topic of premarital sex comes up. So young children would be advised to watch something else. However, nothing sexually explicit is shown and the film retains a fairly innocent tone throughout.

Looking To Show It at Church?

This, unfortunately, would be a difficult film to show at church because of the previously stated “surface preaching.” My recommendation would be to potentially show clips. The message of forgiveness would be the main lesson depicted. The only other part to potentially use at church is the music. as it is wonderfully contemporary. The best songs (in my humble opinion) being He’s Everything (click here), Higher (click here), and Fix Me Jesus (click here).

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