If anyone other than Dolly Parton starred alongside Queen Latifah in Joyful Noise, the new music-driven comedy about a small town choir who wins a national choir competition, I would probably skip it—and dismiss it as a broad-stroke comedy for a less discerning audience.
But as luck would have it, Joyful Noise is the pop-culture icon and country music legend’s first feature film role in 20 years (1992’s Straight Talk was her last)—which begs the question, why has it been so long (not that she hasn’t been busy as a singer-songwriter, children’s literacy advocate, theme-park owner and philanthropist)?
The answer may have more to do with finding the “right script” than a “good script," as Parton explained here to Entertainment Weekly: “I'm not a skilled actress…I have to do things that are true to my personality”. And, not surprisingly, true to her image: “I said [to writer-director Todd Graff, who wrote Parton’s role with her in mind], ‘If you don't want me to change the way I am, then I'll do it. If I can have my hair, my boobs, my nails and my shoes, I'll do it!’"
That said, Parton did tell The Boot here that she would “do something more edgy than [Joyful Noise]” if she found a “great script” and Extra here that the one leading man she would like to work with is Johnny Depp—which, for the record, sounds like cinematic magic to me (note: if anyone out there would like to write said “great script” starring Parton and Depp, I would be happy to produce it!).
Until then, there’s Joyful Noise—and even though the script is probably formulaic and predictable, I (along with some friends, the American Midwest and possibly the Glee-set), will go to see it on Friday, when it opens in theatres across North America. Why? Because it stars the incomparable Dolly Parton, a living legend whose spectacularly artificial physical appearance is matched only by her accessibly authentic cinematic presence . And that’s reason enough for me.
You can watch the trailer here: