Joyful Noise the highlight of a weekend with three big new movie releases

The Takeaway

Last weekend was a bit of a snoozer at the box office, with no major new releases.

This weekend, however, there will be a couple of likely hits hitting the big screen. "Contraband" and "Joyful Noise" will both likely draw large audiences with their star power. Joyful Noise marks the big-screen return of Dolly Parton after a decade off the screen, while Contraband is a big-budget CGI thriller from Mark Wahlberg.

Rafer Guzman, film critic for Newsday, said January is usually a dumping ground for bad movies, but this weekend will be an exception. Because of Joyful Noise, said Kristen Meinzer, culture producer for The Takeaway.

"This is, 100 percent, the greatest movie of the year so far," she said. "It is so good."

Meinzer, a self-described choir fan, said even if you didn't grow up in the choir, you'll love it.

Guzman wasn't as impressed, especially with the acting in the movie, which also stars Queen Latifah.

"When they are singing, the musical numbers really are electrifying," he said. "Those musical numbers made it worth it for me."

While Contraband is expected to be a box office success, both Meinzer and Guzman said it's realy not worth seeing. Contraband's the sort of classic tale of a reformed criminal who's going to do one last job to help out a family member who's found himself in trouble.

"Not a lot of action. Not a lot going on. He spends a lot more time vacuuming rugs on the bridge, rather than doing anything interesting," Guzman said. "Not a very good film."

Meinzer said she loves Wahlberg, but "this movie is awful."

Also out this weekend will be the Disney classic Beauty and the Beast, given a 3D retrofit.

"I don't know if the 3D really ads anything to this," Guzman said. "My brain tends to tune the 3D out after about three minutes."

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Sign up for The Top of the World, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning.