Conclusion: 'Joyful Noise' is a mediocre, but overall sweet attempt to capitalize on the 'Glee' craze. Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah make for an entertaining on screen duo, but their chemistry and soulful voices can't elevate the thoroughly mediocre script. Video and audio are both good, offering a pleasing viewing experience. Supplements are pretty basic, but fans might enjoy the extended musical performances. Forgettable but harmless, this is a rental at best.
Summary: Few things ring as hollow as manufactured inspiration... other than manufactured spirituality that is, which isn't as easily defined as it is easily identified. It isn't necessarily one thing that helps identify it either; such theatrics often hitch a ride on the backs of talented people with good intentions. But the road to Hell is paved with good intentions -- so they say, and for good reason -- and it's as true of Hollywood as anywhere else.
Excerpt: Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah, though a generation apart, have carved out undeniably unique roles for themselves in an industry that ordinarily insists on easy categories. Both broke out as iconoclastic musicians in their respective genres of country and rap, and both transitioned into remarkably successful acting careers, each playing roles essentially tailor-made to their personalities, since neither seems capable of actually disappearing into a role.
Excerpt: Like so many formulaic films about underdog triumph—sports films, dance films, snobs-vs.-slobs films— Joyful Noise is shameless about exaggerating for broad effect, and about flatly contradicting or undermining itself in the service of any touching or audience-rousing moment. It’s a film about triumph, but only for people who can accept every joyous or fierce moment as triumphant, regardless of how poorly it follows from the moment before it.