NOTE: This spoiler was submitted by Leah0066.
“Joyful Noise” opens with the Divinity Church Choir performing at the “Joyful Noise Competition”. Choir members G.G. Sparrow (Dolly Parton) and Vi Rose Hill (Queen Latifah) are both performing solos, and Bernie Sparrow (Kris Kristofferson) is the choir director. As they sing, G.G. notices that her husband Bernie is in pain, and she pulls him offstage. Vi Rose finishes directing the number.
Cut to shots of Pacashau Georgia, where a bunch of the stores and businesses on Main Street are closing down. Over to the funeral of Bernie Sparrow, who is mourned by the entire Divinity Church congregation.
After the funeral, Pastor Dale speaks with G.G. in his office. The choir needs a new director so they can continue in the competition. G.G. obviously thinks he is about to name her director, but instead he appoints Vi Rose.
All the other choir members are excited to have Vi Rose as their director, and she gives them a big motivational speech about how this is going to be the year they finally beat the Holy Vision Church of Detroit and win nationals. As soon as the other choir members are gone, G.G. stars sassing Vi Rose. The women butt heads because Vi Rose is stubborn and hates change and is old fashioned in her musical tastes, while Vi Rose thinks G.G. is a spoiled rich girl who always get her way. Vi Rose tells her daughter Olivia (Keke Palmer) to go outside and check on her brother.
Olivia heads out to the car where her brother Walter is hiding. While she is talking to Walter, Manny pulls up in his car and starts hitting on her. Olivia tells Manny she’s not allowed to date. Vi Rose intercedes to shut Manny down hard.
Cut to G.G. opening her front door. She sees that a flowerpot has been knocked off the windowsill, and she hears someone moving around in the kitchen. She grabs a shotgun and scares the pants off her grandson Randy (Jeremy Jordan) who has unexpectedly arrived to stay with her.
G.G. brings Randy to the next choir rehearsal. At the rehearsal, choir members Earla and Mr. Hsu are clearly flirting. Olivia is singing the solo in “Man in the Mirror”, and Vi Rose tells her to quit showing off and sing the song in a more humble and religious manner. Olivia has a beautiful voice, and Randy is dazzled by her. When the song is over, he jumps up and claps and yells, “Yeah, make some noise in this bitch!”, shocking all the choir members.
On their respective car rides home, Vi Rose complains to Olivia about G.G., while G.G. complains to Randy about Vi Rose. Both women warn the teenagers not to get involved with each other.
Over to Vi Rose’s kitchen, where Walter is obsessing about various one-hit wonders (it’s obvious he has some form of autism). Walter and Olivia are excited because they’ve just received their weekly letter from their father who is serving in the military.
Olivia leaves for school and is joined by Randy who walks with her. Randy is raving about Olivia’s singing, but she can’t take the compliments comfortably because her mother always tells her not to be prideful about her singing. Randy asks her to go out with him after school, and Olivia says she can’t because of choir practice. Randy says he’s going to join the choir.
Cut to Pastor Dale’s house. He has been joined for dinner by G.G., Randy, Vi Rose, Walter, and Olivia. G.G. makes a comment about how weird it is that Vi Rose’s husband signed up for a second tour of duty. Olivia says he had to because he had no job and no other way to support his family. Walter gets upset and goes into the living room where he starts banging on the piano. Randy calms him down by showing Walter how to play one of his favorite songs. Vi Rose is impressed, and Randy offers to give Walter piano lessons.
Cut to the Divinity Church soup kitchen, where the impoverished citizens of Pacashau ask the choir members to win the national competition so the town can experience hope and joy again.
Over to Walter and Randy’s piano lesson. Randy plays a hip hop song “I’m In Love With A Stripper”, and Walter laughs. Vi Rose overhears and she laughs too.
Cut to Randy’s car, where Olivia is showing him a YouTube video of the church that always beats them in the “Joyful Noise Competition”, the Holy Vision Church of Detroit. Because Holy Vision always wins the regional competition, the Divinity Church choir has never actually been to nationals. Randy tries to kiss Olivia, but she pulls away because she is afraid her mom will freak out.
At the next rehearsal, Randy asks Vi Rose if he can join the choir. Vi Rose is skeptical, but she lets him audition and he is amazing. He sings with Olivia and they are incredible together.
After their first Sunday performance, they run through a field together and Randy says they should start a band together. Olivia still feels guilty about taking pride in her singing.
Earla and Mr. Hsu watch the kids running through the field, and they commiserate about how long it’s been since they had someone to love. They jump on each other and start making out.
Cut to Earla bringing Mr. Hsu breakfast in bed after a night of passionate lovemaking. Unfortunately, it was too much for Mr. Hsu, who is dead.
Cut to Mr. Hsu’s funeral where Earla is bawling on Pastor Dale’s shoulder. He thinks she is upset about Mr. Hsu, but she is mostly upset because now no one will want to sleep with her because they’ll know her as the “tap it and die” girl.
Back to Olivia’s house, where Olivia is sneaking out to go to a nightclub with Randy. At the club, Manny tries to hit on Olivia, but Randy pulls her away and starts dancing with her. Manny watches enviously.
Cut to the hospital, where Vi Rose works as a nurse. She spills a bedpan all over the floor and looks frustrated.
Cut to Walter and Randy hanging out on the roof of Walter’s house. Walter says that no one wants to hang out with him because he has Asperger’s. He says, “I don’t want to be like this.” Randy comforts him and tries to build his confidence. He takes Walter to a rock quarry where they yell and sing across the water to hear the echo. They are interrupted by Manny, who obviously wants to pick a fight with Randy. They start scuffling and Walter intercedes, punching Manny in the nuts. Manny runs away.
Randy takes Walter back home, and Walter is excited because he was brave enough to stand up to Manny. Vi Rose is furious that Randy involved Walter in a fight. She kicks Randy out of her house.
Randy goes home and Olivia and G.G. help clean him up. Olivia says she won’t let her mom keep them apart. Randy kisses her passionately until G.G. pulls them apart.
Cut to the “Joyful Noise” regional finals. The four-time national champions Holy Vision are up first. They are insanely talented, with perfect choreography and young, hot singers. The crowd loves them.
Cut to the bus where the Divinity Church choir is riding home. They’ve lost again. Vi Rose tells Pastor Dale that next year they’ll sing more traditional songs, but Pastor Dale says there won’t be a next year because the competition is too expensive and they never win.
Over to Olivia’s house where she and Randy are hanging out while Vi Rose is at work. Olivia wants Randy to arrange the music for the choir so it will be more contemporary. Randy wants to cheer Olivia up, so he tells her to get in the car for a surprise. They drive until long after dark, and Olivia says her mom is going to kill her.
Vi Rose is frantic, and she heads to the police station with G.G. She blames G.G. for bringing Randy to town. The cops say they can’t do anything until the next day.
Meanwhile, Randy pulls up to the Ft. Rail complex where Olivia’s father is stationed. Olivia wakes up to see her father Marcus standing in front of the car. They head to a diner so they can talk. Olivia shows Marcus a video of her brother playing the piano and singing. She complains to Marcus that Vi Rose has changed since he’s been gone. Marcus says he could have stayed, but he couldn’t stand being such a disappointment to his family. Being away from Vi Rose has made him appreciate her a hundred times more, but he doesn’t think she would take him back even if he could come home. Olivia says Vi Rose is always happy when she sees the letters Marcus sends. Marcus says he hasn’t sent the kids any letters, it must have been Vi Rose who wrote them.
Back at Vi Rose’s house, Walter asks his mom why she loves gospel music so much? Walter says that God hasn’t helped them at all, that he cursed Walter with autism. Vi Rose says she loves Walter just the way he is. After Walter is in bed, Vi Rose goes to the church to play the piano and sing “Fix Me Jesus.”
The next morning Vi Rose gets a call from Ft. Rail and she goes to pick up Olivia. Marcus tells Vi Rose he’s about to be deployed. On the car ride home, Olivia is furious that Vi Rose made up the letters from Marcus. Olivia says she doesn’t blame Marcus for leaving Vi Rose, because she hates being around her mom too. Vi Rose says it’s easy for Olivia to love her dad because “people who aren’t around make very few mistakes.”
Afterward, Randy tries to walk to school with Olivia as usual, but she’s angry at him. She doesn’t want him to say rude things about her mom, and she wants him to leave her alone because he’s brought nothing but trouble into her life. Randy yells, “But I love you!”
Distraught, Randy tries to hitch a ride out of town, but G.G. picks him up instead. G.G. says he can’t leave because Holy Vision just got disqualified from the competition for using paid professional singers, so the Divinity Church choir gets to go to the finals.
Vi, Olivia, and G.G. try to look up the choir they will be competing against, but they can’t find any information. G.G. tries to pressure Vi to use more contemporary music in the competition, but she is too stubborn. When she sees the whole choir is against her, she quits.
Cut to Vi Rose lying in bed, watching old videos of her and Marcus.
Cut to yet another store on Main Street closing down.
Cut to Vi Rose taking a second job as a waitress. G.G. comes to visit her at the restaurant to convince her to come back as choir director. Vi Rose and G.G. get in a big fight where they fling water and bread rolls at each other. Vi Rose gets fired and storms off.
G.G. heads home to play the piano and sing to herself. Randy grabs his guitar and they play a duet of the song G.G. always sang with Bernie. As she sings, G.G. goes over to the window and sees a vision of herself and Bernie dancing in the backyard.
Cut to Vi and Olivia driving. Olivia tells her mom to come back as director, and not to let her ego get in the way. Vi lets Earla teach the choir some new choreography. Olivia mentions that their band isn’t very good, so Randy convinces Manny to join them because he’s amazing on the guitar. Olivia is still angry at Randy.
The choir shows off their new contemporary style at Sunday service, but Pastor Dale doesn’t like it. He tells G.G. that they need to go back to the old way of singing and they need to boot Randy out of the choir, or else Pastor Dale won’t sponsor them for the competition.
Cut to the choir riding the bus to finals. They are extremely gloomy because they don’t think they can win singing boring songs, especially with no Randy to help them.
Cut to Randy moping at home. He flashes through memories of Olivia.
Cut to the hotel where Vi Rose’s snoring is keeping Olivia from taking a nap. Olivia gets up to leave, and Vi Rose chases after her. They have a big showdown in the hallway where Vi Rose slaps Olivia for being ungrateful and disrespectful.
Meanwhile, G.G. brings Randy some lunch. Randy says G.G. doesn’t have to stay home with him, and she says she’s planning to fly to the competition in a couple of hours. She has tried to find another church to sponsor the choir for the competition, but with no luck. Randy says Bernie loved the Divinity church, but he loved G.G. more. This gives G.G. an idea.
G.G. pulls up to Pastor Dale’s house and announces that she has just been ordained a minister through an online course. She will start her own church and sponsor the choir herself if Pastor Dale won’t reinstate Randy and let the choir sing whatever they want. Pastor Dale is forced to agree, and they speed to the airport.
Meanwhile at the competition, Earla sits down in the cafeteria and immediately frightens away a handsome man from another choir who has heard of the “tap it and die” girl. The rest of the choir members see G.G. and Randy arriving, and they run over to hug them.
Olivia still won’t talk to Randy, so he flirts with a random blond girl to make her jealous. G.G. tells Olivia that she needs to show Randy she is a woman now. Olivia dresses up in a sexy pink dress and saunters past Randy to catch his attention.
At the same time, Earla is warming up her voice in the bathroom. While she is practicing, a hot young Asian guy comes in and says he’s been watching Earla at all the choir competitions and he thinks she’s really special. Earla asks if he has high blood pressure (thinking of the unfortunate Mr. Hsu), and he says that people in his family live to be 90.
Meanwhile, Vi Rose sees Olivia in the sexy pink dress and she says, “You’re all grown up now.” They hug.
Just then, the other choir takes the stage. They are from Our Lady of Perpetual Sorrow, and it turns out the entire choir is composed of children. They are fantastic and the crowd goes nuts.
The Divinity Church choir is freaking out because they have to compete against a bunch of kids. Vi Rose says, “Who cares, let’s cream those kids!” The Divinity Church choir takes the stage, singing one of their classic old-school songs. The audience is clearly bored. Vi Rose stops mid-song, and says “Let’s pump it up!” She rips off her robes, revealing a sexy black dress underneath. The rest of the choir follows suit. They start singing a medley of contemporary pop songs with Christianized lyrics, like an Usher song with the words “God and me are the best of homies”. The choir uses their snazzy choreography and their jazzy new band to totally wow the crowd.
Cut to Walter holding the first place trophy. It’s the following morning, and everybody is packing up and getting ready to go home. For once, Vi Rose and G.G. are having a friendly conversation. Olivia walks up to Randy and kisses him. Everybody cheers.
Cut to the bus pulling into Pacashau. The whole town is cheering and waving signs.
Cut to one year later. Earla and the hot young Asian guy are getting married. The Divinity Church choir sings as Earla walks down the aisle in her wedding dress. Vi Rose and G.G. sing a duet together. At that moment, Marcus arrives home from his tour overseas. Olivia runs over to hug him, and Walter salutes. Vi Rose hugs her husband as rice showers down on their heads.