Thank goodness for Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton, her first big screen role in 20 year. They lift the otherwise perfunctory “Joyful Noise” to lofty heights.

Despite some terrific and authentic gospel flavor, the plot’s very simple; the two characters vie for control of a small-town Georgia church chorus.

Though predictable, the two deliver pretty standout performances. After choirmaster (Kris Kristofferson) suffers a heart attack, the Pastor (Courtney B. Vance) gives Latifah’s character, Vi Rose Hill, the job, rather than Parton’s character G.G. Sparrow.

While they bicker, Hill’s daughter Olivia (Keke Palmer) and Jeremy Jordan as Parton’s grandson begin to spark to a romance.

Director Todd Graff (“Camp” and “Bandslam”) knows his way around competition-like movies and delivers a solid blow here; successfully concentrating on the antics of his featured stars.

It’s rather a remarkable cast he’s assembled here, and they deliver solid performances all around.

Parton’s line reacting to her own personal travails is on point: “God didn’t make plastic surgeons so they could starve.” Oddly funny for sure.

Latifah delivers her usual credible job and shines in the performance sequences. A rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Man in the Mirror” becomes the standout musical piece in the film.

The choir’s final performance is pristine; maybe even a bit too pristine; it delivers some terrific harmonies. We enjoyed seeing character players Kristofferson and Vance; actors who are just out and out terrific.

The film was written Graff, with gospel-infused music by Mervyn Warren.

It hits theaters Jan. 13.

Short Notes

We caught the much ballyhooed Gary Oldman movie “Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy” and though we loved him in it (heck, we love him in anything),  following this movie was like trying to figure your way out of a maze. It made my head hurt.

We also saw “The Descendants” and absolutely loved it. The screen adaption of the noel, from Director Alexander Payne was terrific; a lot different than his movie “Sideways.” George Clooney does deliver an Oscar-worthy performance as does Shailene Woodley as his daughter. A must-see for sure.