An unwieldy, frequently baffling piece of claptrap that careens wildly to and fro in its efforts to serve many different narrative masters, gospel-tinged Joyful Noise aims for many different marks, and misses on almost all of them. By turns a musical competition drama, a blue-collar homily, a forbidden coming-of-age romance and a tale of familial reconciliation, the movie tries to use noisy, open-hearted effort to mask its narrative deficiencies, but it comes across as phony — a duet of prefabricated sentimentality and self-satisfied impudence.
The performances are things of volume and homespun sass; in short, these aren’t characters, they’re vessels for wan moralizing and sometimes snappy, mostly tired rejoinders. Ladled across all of the hokum is a bunch of convoluted, cornpone metaphors. Special note should go to hairstylist Cheryl Riddle, though, who creates a mesmerizing special effect and the movie’s most lasting reminiscence in the form of Dolly Parton’s towering, teased-upwards hairdo. For the full, original review, from Screen International, click here. (Warner Bros., PG-13, 118 minutes)