A New York advertising executive who is about to land a big account, has his life shaken up when it becomes known that he has lied about having a college degree. After being fired, his life is further shaken by his debtors who had counted on paying after landing the account. Having to go on the run, he is called back to his southern town roots, when his great aunt dies. At the reading of the will, he learns he has been asked to assume the mantle of choir director of his great aunt's church and if he can get the choir in the Gospel Explosion in Atlanta, he will inherit stock worth $150,000. Unfortunately the choir leaves a lot to be desired and he has to start recruiting. Among others, he gets three prisoners to join. More importantly, he gets a "sinner" from one of the local night clubs to join. While initially scorned and resisted, nonetheless her voice wins everyone but the hardcore church busybody. Written by
John Sacksteder <email@example.com>
Some Half Decent Music Makes A Dreadful Movie Barely Bearable
Back in the days when Beyonce still needed a last name (and so in this movie she's Beyonce Knowles) somebody decided to make a movie. It's a bad movie, about a struggling church choir that has to turn itself around to win a big gospel music competition. Yes, there's definite shades of "Sister Act" here, and the engine that moves everything forward is a storyline that was exhausted decades ago - a guy inherits a bunch of money but has to do something crazy to get it. Beyonce can sing - thankfully - and they had some half decent singers helping her out - again, thankfully, because without a little bit of half decent music to listen to this would have been a truly dismal experience.
The guy who inherits the money is Darrin Hill, a New York junior ad exec who loses his job when it's discovered that he faked his resume and then heads back home to Monte Carlo, Georgia, where his great aunt has just died. Aunt Sally has left him $150,000 - on condition that he take over as leader of the choir at the church he attended as a boy and leads them to victory at "Gospel Explosion." Since Darrin happens to have a lot of debt, he agrees, even though he knows nothing about music and cares little about the church. Darrin is played by Cuba Gooding, Jr., who looked miscast and uncomfortable in the role from beginning to end. Beyonce played Lilly, whom Darrin knew as a child at the church and who's now a lounge singer whom Darrin recruits to be the lead singer. Neither are welcomed by the pastor's sister (LaTanya Richardson), who has been the head of the choir and who basically runs the church and runs roughshod over her pastor brother (Wendell Pierce), since she sees both as unrepentant sinners, a feeling that grows as Darrin recruits anyone and everyone from the local barber to a bunch of prison inmates to help out. Richardson's character of Paulina is the absolutely required hypocritical church member - because there has to be a mean, nasty, hypocritical Christian in any movie featuring a church.
If it weren't for the music (some of which is entertaining) dreadful would be sufficient to sum this movie up. The music raises it up one level to just plain awful. There's no charm in it, and while there are a few humorous scenes near the beginning, by a half hour in this has become a chore to try to watch. Eventually this becomes just plain irritating as we wait for what we know is going to be the inevitable outcome, hoping to just get this over with as soon as possible. For some absolutely mystifying reason, the cast even included as a choir member Rue McClanahan, who has virtually no lines, making me wonder if the producers just felt they needed a recognizable white face in this - because I honestly can't think of a single thing she contributed to the movie other than - well - a recognizable white face. (2/10)
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