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Article posted: 12/27/2012 5:00 AM

Worst movie of the year? Try 'Joyful Noise'

Dann Gire’s pick for worst movie of the year: “Joyful Noise” starring Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah.

Dann Gire's pick for worst movie of the year: "Joyful Noise" starring Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah.

 
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Reel Life 2012 notes:

• 2012 proved that the No. 1 cause of ruined movie experiences for patrons wasn't rude viewers. Or bad popcorn. Or out-of-focus screens.

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It's theatrical trailers and TV commercials for movies.

You know, the ones that ruin surprises, reveal plot twists and spoil all the good jokes so by the time we get into the theater, actually watching the movie becomes anticlimactic and a waste.

Take the trailer to Drew Goddard's wonderfully original "The Cabin in the Woods." It destroys the movie's first surprise that tips us off that things aren't what they seem. (The event involves an eagle flying.)

Or take the trailers to Tim Burton's poorly conceived vampire comedy "Dark Shadows." The commercials included every single major joke and revealed every plot component so that when we saw the feature, we'd pretty much seen it already.

Consider this bad analogy: If movies were car tires, how would you feel about manufacturers taking a little tread off before selling them?

• Our unofficial awards for the most impressive new performers of the year go to a boy and a girl.

Young Tom Holland not only displayed an amazing command of the silver screen in the fact-based disaster drama "The Impossible," he carries the movie as the main character over seasoned supporting stars Ewan McGregor and Naomi Watts. Holland spent about two years starring in the London production of "Billy Elliot: The Musical."

Even younger (5 when she auditioned), Quvenzhané Wallis carried the bulk of the dramatic weight in Benh Zeitlin's fantastic daughter/father drama "Beasts of the Southern Wild," a tale of a girl struggling to find her mother while the polar ice caps melt and some vaguely defined beasties are coming her way.

• Best business news of the year: Disney buys the "Star Wars" franchise from creator George Lucas. Now that the same company that owns both Pixar and the Muppets has control over The Force, maybe, just maybe, the next "Star Wars" production will be better than those three moribund prequels, Episodes 1, 2 and 3.

• Worst movie of the year? Hands down, the dishonor goes to the racist, joyless "Joyful Noise," a supposed comedy about a national church choir singing contest. It stars Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah in a shallow and slightly evil movie that preaches the superiority of money and popularity over faith.

Parton's grandson Randy (Jeremy Jordan) also illustrates how white characters are superior to black ones. Randy proves himself a better romantic catch than local black males. Randy fixes Latifah's broken marriage to her military husband.

Plus, Randy fixes up two other troubled black souls and rearranges all those moldy spirituals into energetic, toe-tapping works of joy.

As for Christian kindness and compassion, forget it here. Latifah's choir leader urges her fellow singers to crush the cute kids who are their chief contest competition.

"Jesus said it best," Latifah screeches, "Suffer the little children! You can be a Big Brother some other time!"


'White Out' returns

Five years ago, a group of Northwest suburbanites got together and made the movie "White Out." To commemorate the fifth anniversary, the movie will be presented at 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 29, at the Cutting Hall Performing Arts Center, 150 E. Wood St., Palatine. Tickets cost $6 per person and can be purchased at cuttinghall.org or by calling (847) 202-5222. (An order fee will apply.)

St. Charles actor John Legat stars as the host of a New Hampshire radio show. When he receives a call from a listener accusing his fiancé of cheating on him with the university quarterback, the host stays on the air to extract revenge.

Writer/director and Palatine's Fremd High School grad David B. Grelck will be at the screening, as will fellow Fremd grad Michelle Higgins, who plays opposite Legat.

"White Out" (not to be confused with Kate Beckinsale's terrible 2007 horror film "Whiteout") isn't rated, but contains mature language and sexual situations. Be alerted.

Some reel movie dogs!

OK, it might not be the dog days of summer, but Dann & Raymond's Movie Club is opening its 2013 season with "The Greatest Canine Movies" featuring Rin-tin-tin in his first starring role, plus the first Lassie movie, along with salutes to Old Yeller, Marley, White Fang, the Shaggy Dog and others. It starts at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 3, at the Schaumburg Library, 130 S. Roselle Road, Schaumburg. Free admission. stdl.org.

• Daily Herald Film Critic Dann Gire's column runs Fridays in Time out!

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