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The spirit of Motown runs through the long-awaited film adaption of the Broadway musicalDreamgirls, which centers 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 aboutDreamgirlsnow 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? WhileDreamgirlsis 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 inDreamgirls: 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, anAmerican Idolcontestant 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 inDreamgirls' thrall.--Mark Englehart
An Intimate Look Inside the Music Industry The performances in this movie were excellent. The music was above average but I don't think it compares well to earlier musicals done by Hollywood during the supposed "Golden Era" of the genre. The subjects of the movie were most fascinating and the strongest part of the film; most people didn't get to see what happened behind the scenes of the music industry when music went from an interest to an obsession in the American collective conscious in the 60's and 70's. It certainly deserved the Oscar nominations it recieved this year.A powerful fable on power and empowerment Simply stated - this movie, this musical, bowled me over and completely enveloped me in its acting, its production value and its music. In my opinion, Dreamgirls creators have done the impossible - they have taken an award winning Broadway musical and made it better than the Broadway show that it was based upon.
The production on screen allowed for a more complete telling of the story behind these women, their successes and their fears. Success in this movie is directly associated with sacrifice - what will these women surrounder to in order to get the dream they want and what will it take for them to claim control over their lives in order to fulfill their destinies.
There are however three production issues that could have been done differently that would have more firmly knitted the music to the storyline:
* First, Beyonce's "Listen" number was misplaced in a recording studio; its should have played out that evening when she told Curtis she was leaving.
* Secondly, Effie should have received another number - and expansion of "Effie White is Going to Win" in Curtis' office.
* Finally, the producers should have addressed the most blatant oversight - a musical number for Lorelle. It appeared in the stage version and was cut from th script or the film. Anika Noni Rose did an outstanding job in her role, and the lack of a solo hurt her chances at the recognition that she should have received.
Finally, after you see this movie you need to listen to the soundtrack and see how well the songs express the drama. "And I'm Telling You" is NOT the best song in the movie. That honor belongs to "I am Changing" The unsettling "We Are Family" is meant to stop the story, send a double message, and set the stage for Effie's impending removal from the group. It works if you understand it, otherwise it feels misplaced.
The message of the movie is that everyone has dreams, and that those dreams can come true if you seize your destiny and make those dreams come true for yourself.Great Acting...Great Music...Great Production I was never into musicals, but this one kept me tuned in. I found myself so interested in the movie, that I forgot it was a musical. I would have given this movie 5 stars, but I honestly think Beyonce' is beautiful&talented, but simply not a great actor.