2006
Rated: PG-13 for drug use, and adult language.
Genre: Musical Drama
Directed By: Bill Condon
Running Time: 2:10
Review by: Felix Vasquez Jr.
Review Date: 3/26/07
Special Features:
Not Announced
DREAM GIRLS

 

When Jennifer Hudson won the Academy award for best supporting actress, I was pissed. And that’s an understatement. Granted, not a lot of people take the Oscars with much validity or relevance these days, but this was a movie award. And they were telling me that she won because of her talent, and not because they were pandering to the reality show crowd. A part of me is still sure her win was a pander, but most of me is sure that her win was apt. “Dream Girls” is a very good musical for many reasons, but the primary reason why it’s so utterly watchable is because of Jennifer Hudson. I was wrong in many respects. Jennifer Hudson’s performance here is fantastic, and it helps that she just completely devours every scene she’s in with her presence and amazing vocals, to boot.

Forget Beyoncè, forget Jamie Foxx, this is Jennifer Hudson’s film. This isn’t just some vehicle for this woman. She acts here, she demands attention, and she steals scenes in every single turn. In a film starring a group of talented actors and a popular hip hop star like Beyoncè, it’s an accomplishment that Jennifer Hudson can be the most memorable aspect of this musical. Come for Hudson, stay for the wonderful musical numbers.  

From the opening, I was hooked, and Hudson just makes it about her. Watch the utterly soulful “I Love you, I do,” and I dare you not to get goose bumps at her fantastic rendition of “And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going.” Bill Condon’s film is a rather above par musical in a time when musicals really aren’t very good anymore. The music is awfully uproarious with some truly memorable vocals from Beyoncè Knowles, and Jamie Foxx who is memorable as the slimy Curtis Taylor who manages The Dreams and keeps them in order through underhanded practices, while Eddie Murphy really gives a good performance as James Thunder Early, a man who begins to fade as times change. Condon’s musical really is an entertaining production, and it keeps its pace lively from beginning to end.

In spite of the best attempts at denial, it’s pretty obvious that “Dreamgirls” is meant to be a reflection on the times of the Supremes. From beginning to end, this is such an obvious mirror of the period when the Supremes reigned as one of the most popular musical acts in the world, except in “Dreamgirls,” it attempts instead to depict the Diana Ross persona—obviously played by Beyonce—as the more sympathetic personality of the story. In reality, Ross simply wasn’t the innocent and humble vocalist who fell into popularity that separated her from her group.

Instead she was a prima donna who felt she was much too good to be featured with her band mates, and she continues to feel this way to this day. Unfortunately, “Dreamgirls” is a reflection of this, and when the creators denied this connection, they’re true. This is not how Ross conducted herself. Meanwhile, the film simply loses steam by the second half. As we focus in more on Knowles’ character Deena Jones and her stardom as well as her relationship with Curtis Taylor, the film meanders from the more dynamic relationship of Effie with her friends, and heads into a more romantic area that really didn’t register with me.

In spite of losing a lot of steam in the second half, and its indication that it's really not inspired by the Supremes, "Dreamgirls" is a tight and entertaining musical with a show stealing performance by Jennifer Hudson.

 

 

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