Wednesday, January 3, 2007


My reasons for wanting to see Dreamgirls were part hype, part curiosity. A lot of fuss has been made over former American Idol finalist Jennifer Hudson’s performance in the movie, and it’s justified, but I’ll get to that in a minute.

Dreamgirls, the big-screen adaptation of the ‘80s Broadway show, is the story of a ‘60s Supremes-like girl group working for their big break. And a shady producer/manager - well-played by Jamie Foxx - gets it for them.

Dreamgirls is Beyoncé’s first “big” role, and I imagined she’d be perfect for it, playing gorgeous singer Deena Jones (loosely based on Diana Ross) thrust in the spotlight in her group (loosely based on The Supremes), pretty much because of her looks. Beyoncé has firsthand experience with this; she became the “lead singer” of her former group Destiny’s Child because the camera loved her then and loves her now, not because she was necessarily a better singer or performer than her group mates.

Director Bill Condon (who wrote the screenplay for the movie adaptation of Chicago) does a fine job of bringing Broadway to the silver screen here. The musical numbers, quick editing, glitz and costume changes keep things moving, but I must admit, musicals make me cringe. I can’t get past the unnatural act of characters bursting into song suddenly. The only exception in Dreamgirls is when Effie White (Hudson) sings “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” – a showstopper that not only shows Jennifer Hudson’s vocal range, but her acting talent as well. I cringed for a different reason here: the pure, raw emotion of the painful scene.

Beyoncé, on the other hand, is NOT an actress. Why she got a Golden Globe nomination for best actress is beyond me. Hudson blows her clear out of the water. And Hudson is up for a Globe for best supporting actress. It really should be the other way around.

Dreamgirls is an entertaining bit of fun. Jamie Foxx and Eddie Murphy are great to watch, and it’s worth seeing, if just for Jennifer Hudson’s amazing talent and Beyoncé’s stunning looks.

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