When a small-town church's choir director dies, Vi Rose Hill (Latifah) steps into the role with the aim of maintaining the group's proud gospel tradition. But the director's widow, G.G. Sparrow (Parton), feels she should have been given the post, and, as the choir heads towards a national competition, the church finds itself in a storm.
There's something appealing in the idea of Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton as competing divas in a small-town choir. Sadly, this unfocused and clichéd effort is neither as campily delightful nor dramatically powerful as one might wish. Determined to tackle social and personal issues from autism to grief to small-town economic depression, it tries to have its cake and eat it too with bizarre comic asides and high-concept musical numbers amid the heartache. And while the leading ladies spark nicely, far too much time is devoted to all the town’s other residents and/or moralising, leaving this feeling more like a squashed TV series from some obscure religious network than a cinematic effort. It also gets minus points for blatantly stealing its finale from Sister Act 2.
A join-the-dots parade of feel-good clichés. And not in a good way.
Reviewed by William Thomas