Dreamgirls [1 Disc Edition] [DVD]
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Based on the Broadway musical, a trio of black female soul singers cross over to the pop charts in the early 1960's.
The spirit of Motown runs through the long-awaited film adaption of the Broadway musical Dreamgirls, which centres around a young female singing trio who burst upon the music scene in the '60s, complete with bouffant hairdos, glitzy gowns, and a soul sound new to the white-bread American music charts. Sound familiar? You aren't the first one to draw comparisons to the meteoric rise of the Supremes, and despite any protests to the contrary, this is most definitely a thinly veiled reinterpretation of that success story. The Dreamettes--statuesque Deena (Beyonce Knowles), daffy Lorell (Anika Noni Rose) and brassy Effie (Jennifer Hudson)--are a girl group making the talent-show rounds when they're discovered by car salesman and aspiring music manager Curtis Taylor Jr. (Jamie Foxx). Sensing greatness (as well as a new marketing opportunity) Curtis signs the Dreamettes as backup singers for R&B star James "Thunder" Early (Eddie Murphy). But when Early's mercurial ways and singing style don't mesh with primarily white audiences, Curtis moves the newly-renamed Dreams to center stage--with Deena as lead singer in place of Effie. And that's not the only arena in which Effie is replaced, as Curtis abandons their love affair for a relationship with star-in-the-making Deena.
Besides the Supremes comparison, one can't talk about Dreamgirls now without revisiting its notorious Oscar snub; though it received eight nominations, the most for any film from 2006, it was shut out of the Best Picture and Director races entirely. Was the oversight justified? While Dreamgirls is certainly a handsomely mounted, lovingly executed and often vibrant film adaptation, it inspires more respect than passion, only getting under your skin during the musical numbers, which become more sporadic as the film goes on. Writer-director Bill Condon is definitely focused on recreating the Motown milieu (down to uncanny photographs of Knowles in full Diana Ross mode), he often forgets to flesh out his characters, who even on the Broadway stage were underwritten and relied on powerhouse performances to sell them to audiences. (Stage fans will also note that numerous songs are either truncated or dropped entirely from the film.) Condon has assembled a game cast, as Knowles does a canny riff on the essence of Diana Ross' glamour (as opposed to an all-out impersonation) and Rose makes a peripheral character surprisingly vibrant; only Foxx, who never gets to pour on the charisma, is miscast.
Still, there are two things even the most cranky viewers will warm to in Dreamgirls: the performances of veteran Eddie Murphy and newcomer Jennifer Hudson. Murphy is all sly charm and dazzling energy as the devilish Early, who's part James Brown, part Little Richard, and all showman. And Hudson, an American Idol contestant who didn't even make the top three, makes an impressive debut as the larger-than-life Effie, whose voice matches her passions and stubbornness. Though she sometimes may seem too young for the role, Hudson nails the movie's signature song, "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going," with a breathtaking power that must be seen and heard to believe. And for those five minutes, if not more, you will be in Dreamgirls' thrall. --Mark Englehart
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Top Customer Reviews
The songs are fantastic and I think do justice to the Motown sound they are there to imitate, every song is performed with a lot of care and attention and I was drawn into the story pretty early on.
Jennifer Hudson is definitely the star of the show, but the supporting cast are what makes this film great. Beyonce does a great job of underplaying her voice for the majority of the film, which not only helps serve the dynamic between her character and Jennifer Hudson's - but also makes her delivery of the song "Listen" much stronger and more relevant to the story. Eddie Murphy is outstanding throughout and he takes the character of Jimmy Early on an extremely convincing emotional ride through fame, fortune, women and the pitfalls that such a life can bring. He's got a pretty good soulful voice on him too!
Jamie Foxx is also very good - though its clear that his skills lie more in acting than in singing. His character sings less frequently than any other of the main parts and you can kind of hear why (sorry Mr. Foxx). He's by no means awful, just understandably underused.
For me this film earns a solid 4 stars out of five - however, today its getting a 5 out of 5 from me purely to bring up the average that the first reviewer has caused with his 1 star rating.Read more ›
Her feisty approach and confident demeanour even when she is eclipsed by Beyonce and sidelined by Foxx is memorable. She has it; reminiscent of Queen Latifah in 'Chicago'. She will go far.
The film's story does take bits of the Supremes & Motown's history & clearly intends viewers to make the connections.
As such, 'Berry Gordy' (Curtis Taylor Jr. in the film, well acted by Jamie Foxx) comes out badly, being depicted as a money chasing white wannabe, dumbing down the `blackness' of his acts in order to sell records to (white) pop music buyers.
What the movie doesn't do is put this in context; making a success as a black person in 1960s America was harder than most modern day viewers could ever imagine. If it meant some compromises along the way in putting black artists on TV & in the charts & out of poverty then surely it was worth it. Today's black stars such as Oprah Whitney & Destiny' Child have testified how they were inspired by Diana Ross etc.
Anyway, back to the film. The acting is uniformly good, Eddie Murphy shows he can really sing, Beyoncé Knowles shows she can act as well as sing & the film is consistently interesting in showing glimces of a long gone time as well as how tough the music business can be.
In truth, if you don't like soul music then you might find the film boring though the amazing vocal performances of Jennifer Hudson should cure you of that pretty quick! (go to the scene where she sings "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going" & then see if soul music still bores you!!)
Jennifer Hudson is the star of the film & well deserves the Oscar she got for her performance.Read more ›
I loved it, I think Hudson is amazing and Beyoncé and Anika both put in strong performances.
the only fault I have is that Beyoncés voice is too strong for us to believe she shouldn't be lead!
Great performances from Jamie Foxx and Eddie Murphy brighten the films basic story. It's refreshing to see Murphy in a decent role that it seems he's enjoying playing and he brings such charisma to the character that I wished I was watching the story of James "Thunder" Early some of the time. Foxx nails the driven manager of the band and it was wonderful seeing him play such a villainous and manipulative character. Beyonce Knowles is passable but Jennifer Hudson is the more charming of the Dreams themselves.
The songs were well performed but few stood out for me. I'm glad someone is still making musicals for the cinema and writer/director Bill Condon is leading a very thin pack of filmmakers in this genre; perhaps a little competition would raise the bar higher. All in all an enjoyable film thats well worth watching.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I'm not normally a fan of Beyoncés acting skills but this has snuck into my top 3 favourite musicals.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
GREAT songs, great perfomances from Beyonce, Jamie Foxx and Jennifer Hudson. memorable musical and for those who havent seen the stage performance ( such as myself, but returns... Read morePublished 2 months ago by becky
This arrived next day as promised and pleased with delivery and film is excellentPublished 3 months ago by Margaret
Its an ok movie to while away a couple of hours - Beyonce is actually very good...Published 3 months ago by LEE MAN