Despite his reputation as a wayward kid, and his taste for such dubious musical selections as a rap tune called “I’m ‘n Luv (Wit a Stripper),” Randy proves himself, in most respects, a model teen.
Not only does his relationship with Olivia unfold in a respectful and restrained manner, but he also takes the opportunity to befriend Olivia’s vulnerable brother, Walter (Dexter Darden), whose Asperger’s syndrome renders him an outcast. Additionally, though Randy has a fistfight with a competitor for Olivia’s affections, he later reconciles with the lad in an exemplary manner.
(With a kind of Andy Hardy, let’s-put-on-a-show inevitability, all three of the aforementioned characters turn out to have musical gifts that are eventually deployed for the greater glory of God and the exultation of Pacashau’s Divinity Church Choir.)
Though burdened with a difficult lifestyle – she’s effectively separated, against her will, from her absent Army officer husband, Marcus (Jesse L. Martin), and works long hours as a nurse – Vi Rose’s faith never falters. She gives eloquent expression to it both in no-nonsense dialogue and in song; her rendition of the traditional spiritual “Fix Me, Jesus” is one of the movie’s emotional highlights.
Catholic viewers may be a bit put off to find Vi Rose, G.G. et al. eventually competing against a choir from “Our Lady of Perpetual Tears.” Whether this conflation of two genuine Marian titles – Our Lady of Perpetual Help and the lesser-known Our Lady of Tears – is intended as a passing satire on Catholic devotions, or merely arises from unfamiliarity with them, is difficult to determine.
In terms of the broad patrimony of Christian faith and Gospel values, however, “Joyful Noise” is unapologetically, unabashedly affirmative to a degree rarely seen in contemporary Hollywood offerings.
The film contains a premarital situation, occasional sexual references and jokes, about a half-dozen crude expressions and some crass language. The Catholic News Service classification is A-III – adults. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13 – parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.
Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.