In which I enjoy some “Joyful Noise,” and shush the uppity hipster critics…..
A predictable movie, well-done, is our version of legend, of powerful folktale told round the fire by tribal elder, myth passed down through generations, or epic saga recited in court by the wise, old royal storyteller. We human beings have an inherent love of story, a need to connect with each other through narrative, through “Once upon a time”, and “….happily ever after.” Even the most esoteric human truth can resonate in our minds if told through the emotional craft of story. It’s how our ancestors taught each other the best hunting tactics, or the best ways to choose a mate, or connect with their spiritual lives.
Few amongst you would derisively dismiss the collected tales of a foreign culture, or mock the stories of a primitive people group. But bring up a predictable movie with a plot that bookies won’t take bets on, and stand back. Here comes the sarcasm. Oh, it is so easy to judge. Especially if you fancy yourself an intellectual, or a hipster, or an intellectual hipster. But I
stand among you blog among you today to claim that IT IS NOT SO, that a movie well-done can reunite us with our most powerful human narratives in a way that is both delightful and comforting.
That’s right, I said it. I love romantic comedies. I love musical theater. I even love sports movies featuring underdogs who triumph against all odds and win the game in the final moment.
And yes, in fact, I did recently enjoy the movie “Joyful Noise” with Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton.
You wanna go get you some upscale culture, fine. Go see “American Beauty”, or “Up In the Air”, or “Sideways”. Perhaps you will leave the theater better off in some way I never did. I find that with the approach of middle age – still in the distance, mind you, I’m not close, it’s WAY off in the distance – I am less interested in the Important Movie, and more interested in what will make me laugh, or cry, or sigh contentedly. Or, on a special day, make me angry or sad or frustrated or motivated.
Me? I’ll go see “Joyful Noise”, and grin the entire time. The. Entire. Time. I’ll savor the contest between outwardly different rivals, competing to lead their underdog group to victory, based on their deeply held convictions, rockin’ good voices, and contagious choreography.
Because you know what? I’ve got plenty of Serious in my life, plenty of Scary Reality, and honestly, even a fine helping of Mysterious Human Evil in the situations in which I live in day in and day out.
So quite frankly, I prefer to watch Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton trade barbs, and compete for the choir master position in their church, and try to prevent the young people in their lives from striving towards a relationship with each other when they ought to know their families don’t care for each other. ( SEE!??? Romeo and Juliet, eternal human story…..)
I want to bounce and sway in my seat to some excellent southern gospel (and gospelly pop music, and pop-y hip-hop-ity gospel), and laugh as Dolly makes jokes about her plastic surgery, and I even want to be satisfied that every single plot twist happens exactly as I predicted it would ten minutes earlier in the movie. I LOVE THAT.
And you know what? I could go a very, very, very long time before I watch another movie with an unsatisfying vague ending, an unjustified sad ending, or any movie in which no one in the film is anyone with whom I’d remotely want to ever hang out.
Life is too short, and I will not be judged. I’m gonna grab my joy where I can find it, and if it comes in the form of Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton, all’s the better.
‘Cause if that don’t make you happy right now, you ain’t trying.