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“Joyful Noise”—(Will Take You Higher!)

“Joyful Noise” is simply fun. The music is incredible. There are big laughs and chuckles. The cast is likeable. The story is mostly predictable, but that’s okay.

“Joyful Noise” is set in a small town in Georgia where black folks and white folks go to church together, sing in the choir together, generally get along together. It’s refreshing to see such racial harmony in the Deep South, realistic or not. There is friction between lead characters played by Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton, but that’s all about their respective stubborn personalities and Latifah’s resentment of Dolly’s wealth.

Both are members of a church choir that works hard each year to win their regional competition, but always comes in second. This time, the winning choir gets bounced for using ringers, including gospel megastar Kirk Franklin in a killer performance. So Dolly, Latifah and company get to go to LA for the nationals.

The movie has romances, hookups, a catfight (Dolly and Latifah), a fistfight, mother/daughter angst, a runaway and a tearful reunion. The plot, though, is almost incidental. The star of this movie is the music.

Performances of pop tunes “Man in the Mirror,” “Maybe I’m Amazed” and “I Want To Take You Higher” are highlights. Keke Taylor and Jeremy Jordan (as Latifah’s daughter and Dolly’s grandson) bring strong singing talent to the show. They also have a romance in the movie, which is frowned on by Latifah, but okay with Dolly.

Should you take a church group to see this feel-good movie about a church choir? Well, it is rated PG-13 for a few impolite words and “a sexual reference.” But you will be entertained and you will have your spirits lifted.

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