“Joyful Noise” (PG-13) Format: DVD and Blu-ray
“Joyful Noise,” sort of a “Glee”-meets-gospel music choral competition musical, makes a pleasant enough racket.
Writer-director Todd Graff, who specializes in this sort of cheerful, campy musical (“Bandslam,” “Camp”), lured Dolly Parton back from the surgically altered wilderness and paired her with Queen Latifah. They play two big belters with competing visions of how their integrated small-town church choir can win the big Joyful Noise choir contest.
Will they wear the robes, keep the showmanship to a minimum and perform unadulterated gospel pop? Or will they show some flash, adapt mainstream love songs of the past and rock the house?
Vi Rose (Latifah) takes over as choir director when their longtime director (Kris Kristofferson) has a heart attack and dies. G.G. (Parton), his widow and the choir’s big financial benefactor, isn’t happy about that. But she grits her teeth and carries on, delivering homespun wisecracks along the way.
What Graff fails to do in this “big game” formula film is to give the story a villain, someone or something to overcome and root against. He rubs the edges off his two leads, who harmonize onstage and barely set off sparks in their arguments offstage. The parent-child fights feel forced. The choir’s big rivals in choral competition are underdeveloped, and the long-suffering pastor (Courtney B. Vance, of course) isn’t that much of a threat to “shut down the choir.”
Graff gave his PG comedy a PG-13 edge by peppering the script with profanity and winking at premarital sex.
But the music — which includes gospel takes on “Maybe I’m Amazed,” “Man in the Mirror” and Sly and the Family Stone’s “Higher,” makes this a fine showcase for the voices, and everybody gets his or her solo.
In a movie marketplace that embraced a perfectly awful exorcism film last weekend, you’d hope that Keke, Dolly and the Queen could lift their voices and lure in the faithful. This cheese doesn’t come with a mousetrap.
— Roger Moore, The Orlando Sentinel
“Haywire” (R) DVD and Blu-ray
After freeing a Chinese journalist held hostage, Mallory (Gina Carano) is double-crossed and left for dead by someone in her own agency. Suddenly the target of assassins who know her every move, Mallory must fight to uncover the truth and turn the tables on her ruthless adversary.
“George Harrison: Living in the Material World” (Not rated) DVD and Blu-ray
Directed by Martin Scorsese, “Living In The Material World” is a double-feature-length film tribute. Features never-before-seen footage from George Harrison’s childhood, throughout his years with the Beatles and solo career.
Also released this week: “Men in Black II (Blu-ray), “New Year’s Eve” (DVD, Blu-ray), “Covert Affairs: Season Two,” “Men in Black” (Blu-ray), “W.E. (DVD, Blu-ray), “Clueless” (Blu-ray), “About a Boy” (Blu-ray), “Definately, Maybe” (Blu-ray),