I went to the movies this afternoon with the Elvas. I was running a wee bit late (not surprising...but I'm trying to get better...) so I told them to go ahead and get us seats and I would be right along. But then I ended up being put in a different theater because the first theater apparently sold out! My theater's start time was 1 minute later but was nearly empty when I went in. So the Elvas left their crowded seats and joined me in what I consider to be the best possible seats in our new stadium seating theaters: front row of the upper section, far side. And we settled in to enjoy the show...my fondest part of the experience was already fulfilled - popcorn with white cheddar seasoning and nearly endless coke.
I had figured on enjoying the movie "Joyful Noise" - I'm fond of Dolly Parton and I really LOVE Queen Latifah. I had not anticipated how much I would love it. Understand, I'm a choir member...so some of the inside jokes of choirs/choir directors/church might be lost on general audiences. But I can't believe anyone could see this movie and not be uplifted. (and Dolly Parton winging rolls at Queen Latifah in one scene was a real treat)
I admit to being a fan of gospel music and gospel choirs - but this movie had something that I also enjoyed in the Sister Act movies...contemporary/pop music being sung as praise and worship. Remember in Sister Act when the nuns sang "My Guy" to Jesus? I love that juxtaposition of the secular and sacred. I think it is a unique way to reach out to those who think church is just dusty and stuffy.
In this movie Paul McCartney's "Maybe I'm Amazed" is sung as worship. And really...the words are so fitting: I'm amazed at the way you love me all the time...maybe I'm afraid of the way I love you...I'm amazed at the way I really need you. The fact that God loves me all the time is amazing.
And I always thought that Michael Jackson's "Man in the Mirror" song was perfectly suited for church: I see the kids in the street, with not enough to eat. Who am I, to be blind? Pretending not to see their needs. A summer's disregard, a broken bottle top and one man's soul - they follow each other on the wind ya know. 'Cause they got nowhere to go. That's what I want you to know. I'm starting with the man in the mirror. I'm asking him to change his ways. And no message could have been any clearer. If you wanna make the world a better place - take a look at yourself and make a change.
There are some imperfections in the film...they may have tried to cover too many bases in two hours. A little judicious editing to eliminate one or two of the side plots would have made for a tighter end product. But there are also some incredible surprises in there.
Some young unknown by the name of Jeremy Jordan whose IMDB filmography shows a grand total of 3 TV/film projects (one still in post-production) and a few stage credits blew me away. He embraced a character that was a too-good-to-be-true punk on the edge of reform...a character who could reach out to a kid with Asperger's syndrome in one scene and play the piano and guitar in another scene then sing gospel with gusto. Seriously? But Jeremy Jordan made it completely believable and made you love his character without reserve. What could have been a cartoon cutout was fleshed out into a real human (and the flesh wasn't bad to look at either...)
But I think the moment in the film that made my heart skip a beat was Queen Latifah sitting alone at a piano and simply singing the spiritual "Fix Me Jesus": Fix me Jesus, fix me...fix me for my long white robes...fix me for my sorry soul...fix me for my dying breath...fix me for my daily love. Fix me Lord, fix me Jesus, fix me.
It was a prayer in song. It didn't feel performed. It felt genuine.
It was a wonderful afternoon...I feel like I've already been to church! Now I just need to convince our choir director to let our choir dance like that choir did!!
(and somebody see if Jeremy Jordan is available for a couple of Sundays!)