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Dreamgirls
Review written on: December 27th, 2006

Dreamgirls Review

This adaptation of the Tony award-winning Broadway musical, Dreamgirls, focuses on three young girls who are trying to make it in the music business, and face all the challenges on the road to eventual celebrity status.

As The Dreamettes, Lorrell (Anika Noni Rose), Deena (Beyonce Knowles), and Effie (Jennifer Hudson) try out for a local talent show. They barely make it onstage, having arrived at the theater at the last minute. While their demure and innocent appearances have other groups shun them, the sheer force of their number knocks the socks off of the audience.

While they lose to a heavyset blues singer, in comes Curtis Taylor, Jr. (Jamie Foxx), a smooth talking car salesman. He takes the girls under his wing and gets them a long-term gig singing backup for James ?Thunder? Early (Eddie Murphy), a singer who feeds off the audience?s reactions and goes about his life in true musician fashion: women and later, drugs. Thanks in part to the songwriting of Effie’s brother C.C. (Keith Robinson), both Jimmy?s and the ladies? popularity increase, and the fame they?ve wanted for so long is on the horizon.

In a time period where racial tension in the air, the records aren’t as successful. In fact, a couple of artists steal the songs and record them themselves. In order to get the exposure that they need, Curtis commits one of the cardinal sins of the music industry: payola. Eventually, Curtis thinks the girls can stand alone and give them a new name: The Dreams. One change though. He replaces lead singer Effie with Deena.

The ladies begin to climb the ladder and pay their dues, which leads to the skyrocketing of most of their careers. Effie is kicked out of the group for her lack of professionalism and one hot temper, but she won?t go down without a fight. If you haven’t quite figured it out yet, this is loosely based on the career of uber-girl group, the Supremes.

As the new lead, Deena’s career naturally goes through the roof, especially after she marries Curtis. We then watch as Curtis shrewdly markets his wife to make her even more larger-than-life than she already is. No longer the star, Effie struggles as she raises her young daughter, whose paternity becomes clear midway through the film. And that’s just scratching the surface!

The scenery, costumes and overall cinematography were lush, colorful, bold, and extravagant. The transition from one year to the next is seamless and not the least bit contrived. As expected, the singing was phenomenal. There was not one moment where you didn’t hear the emotion and pain radiating from the voices.

While Beyonce Knowles’ role as lead singer is something I?m sure she?s fairly used to, she didn’t really play up the whole diva mode, as one would expect. This performance definitely shows her promising talent as an actor. Jamie Foxx and Eddie Murphy smashingly play two sides of the same coin: men that are crafty, opportunistic, and beyond greedy for fame and fortune. For me, by far, Jennifer Hudson’s performance was the breakout and knockout of the entire film. The sheer strength and power of her vocal performances was enough to clinch it. She truly bared her soul along with her talent. Hopefully, she will get further roles worthy of her immense ability.

If this film does not receive any Oscar nominations or better yet, any wins, I will be very surprised. Knowles and Hudson should compete for the Best Supporting Actress nomination alone (my vote would go to Jennifer). If there was ever a film that was worthy of praise and acclaim, this is it. I have not walked out of a film in complete awe in quite a long time, but this put me in a state of bliss and amazement.

 

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