Directed by Bill Condon.
Written by Bill Condon. Based on the story/musical by
Starring Jamie Foxx, Beyoncé Knowles, Jennifer Hudson and Eddie
Release Year: 2006
Review Date: 12/30/06
Okay, it's predictable, and yeah, it's a
musical in the true sense of the form...but, why did I love this
movie so much?
Maybe "love" is a little strong, but "Dreamgirls"
is flawless, a period piece that has the big songs and the big stars
required to pull it all off. The Dreamettes--lead singer Effie
(Jennifer Hudson) and backup singers Deena (Beyoncé Knowles) and
Lorrell (Anika Noni Rose)--show up in Detroit for a stage contest
that they eventually lose, but in doing so have their first run-in
with aspiring record producer Curtis Taylor (Jamie Foxx), who
arranges for The Dreamettes to sing back up for star soul crooner
Jimmy "Thunder" Early (Eddie Murphy). This gig makes the women
minor stars as they ride the Thunder train for 10 weeks; while this
is happening, Curtis and Effie's brother CC (Keith Robinson) begin
crafting a sound for The Dreamettes, who eventually break off from
Thunder to go solo, with one catch--to make them a more TV-friendly
band, they switch lead responsibilities from Effie (who's a little,
well, un-TV-friendly) to Deena, who is a visual knockout even if her
voice isn't as rich as Effie's. The switch, of course, is
brilliant and launches The Dream (renamed) into the musical
stratosphere on a par with The Beatles. Of course, it's all
gravy until Effie finally decides that she doesn't want to sing
back-up any more, and Curtis gets greedy, and Deena buys into her
newfound fame, and on and on and on.
The fall is just a requirement to this type
of storytelling; I still don't know why anyone doesn't make a movie
where it goes from rags to riches and then just ends, but that would
probably be too easy. Regardless, "Dreamgirls" still does good
work during this part of the film; it's got a great mix of songs
fast, slow and somewhere in the middle...and, the singing work by
all of the leads, most notably Hudson, is stellar. Because
this is a real musical, many of the movie's dramatic sequences are
told through song, and that doesn't drag at all, either...in fact,
the number where Effie finally is given the boot from the group
might be the movie's best. The sets look lavish, the
production has zip, the montages are all very well done (even if
bits like the one where you have the requisite
is so tired) and the acting from even guys like Eddie Murphy feels
I didn't walk out of the theater singing any
of the tunes but many of the faster ones are catchy; I DID walk out
of the theater still hopeful that Beyoncé might still remember my
apartment number. Man, you almost can't believe that a woman
could become more stunning each time you see her, but Ms. Knowles
really is that woman. I don't know Jay-Z from your grandmother
but one hopes he's appreciate of the gift he's been given!
I don't think that Oscar will really give
this one the love come February, but I guess you never know.
"Chicago" did win a
lot of cheddar a couple years back, though...
Rating: Opening Weekend
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard