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Screened overnite in Australia for critics and industry.
Ten minutes into director Bill Condon's adaptation of the hit musical, I whispered to my friend "There's no way the film can go at this pace for two hours!" Because up to that point, we had been utterly dazzled by breathtaking staging, impassioned performances and a display of film-making craftsmanship in all its forms (direction, editing, design) that had the packed audience stunned.
Well, two hours later, I'd been proved wrong. Condon has created a vivid, emotional spectacle that will dominate the 06/07 Oscar nominations. Dreamgirls is one of the five best movie musicals ever made.
There is really nothing new about the storyline - smalltown singers make it big and ride the roller-coaster of fame. But thats what works so well for the film - the great cinematic clichés are embraced and played to the hilt by a creative team, both behind and in front of the camera, that knows what makes a great Hollywood musical.
There's not one weak link in the cast. Condon's camera is in love with Beyonce Knowles and she handles the journey from the innocence of the groups early years to the staggering success and fortune of the group at its peak with surprising range. While most singer/actress attempts are failures (Madonna, Whitney, Britney, k.d. lang), Beyonce proves to have genuine talent.
Jamie Foxx centres and grounds the film in a less-flashy role but one that is crucial to the films credibility.
But there are two standouts. Eddie Murphy as fading star Early has never done better work. And Jennifer Hudson delivers an absolute tour-de-force performance in a role that sees her dominate every scene she is in. Her belting solo number was applauded by the audience (a rare enough occurrence during an industry screening but a moment that was repeated a few times thru the film). Hudson is a lock for the supporting actress Oscar, even this far from the ceremony.
Dreamgirls is a better movie in every way than recent award winning musicals Chicago and Moulin Rouge (both of which I am a huge fan). It is a film that tells a classic rags-to-riches story utilising great cinematic technique and bravado. 2006 has offered up some great movie-going experiences for me (Thank You For Smoking, Children Of Men, V For Vendetta, Little Miss Sunshine); for the sheer cinematic thrill it provides, however, Dreamgirls proves to be the best two hours I've spent in a cinema this year.
What a spectacular movie musical experience! This is one worth waiting
in line, if not purchasing advance tickets for. Beautifully realized by
writer-director Bill Condon, 'Dreamgirls' brings back thoughts of a few
years ago when the movie musical version of 'Chicago' knocked our socks
off, and (with the help of the gorgeous 'Moulin Rouge') helped to
revive the modern movie musical. The sets, costumes, musical numbers
all flow beautifully and make for an incredibly affecting motion
As amazing and eye-popping as all of the scene work and musical numbers are, this is, ultimately, a movie rooted in its performances. Jamie Foxx gives further credence to his stature as an incredibly talented musician, and Beyonce Knowles (known for her vocal talents) still manages to impress with her songs and her voice. Not to mention her stunning beauty, as each costume and scene in which she appears seem to top one another in terms of showcasing her incredible beauty. Eddie Murphy blew me away with not only his truly heartfelt performance as Jimmy Early, but his amazing voice and showmanship. What a talent! Anika Noni Rose, who I fell in love with on Broadway in 'Caroline, or Change,' gives her performance as Laurelle soul and a deep, rich vocal styling. But let's face it..we are all going into 'Dreamgirls' wondering if 'American Idol' contestant Jennifer Hudson can pull it off. She has quite a bit to live up to, as Jennifer Holliday's performance as Effie White in the original Broadway production is legendary. Add to that the fact that this is Ms. Hudson movie debut, she must have been feeling a huge weight on her shoulders to do the part, as well as the show, justice. If she isn't able to do anything less than nail the part of Effie, as well as her signature song, 'And I am Telling You,' the whole production, no matter how great the other aspects hold up, runs the risk of crashing loudly. The question on everyone's mind is: Can she do it?
Let me just say this... I have never sat in a theater watching a musical where the audience erupted in applause like they would in a Broadway theater after a performer's song. Everyone (and I mean everyone!) was wildly applauding when she struck her last note in 'And I am Telling You.' It was such an intense experience to be a part of. I mean...as I am writing this, I am getting goose bumps. But not only is her singing tremendously effective, but her actual performance is just as good. She brings a vulnerability and an innocence that perhaps would not have come through had the part been given to a more experienced movie performer. Ms. Hudson is nothing short of breathtaking and, even if you are not crazy about the rest of the picture (doubtful), you will almost certainly be amazed by her talent. Just remarkable. This has to be one of the most impressive motion picture debuts in the history of cinema. Even during the closing "curtain call," when Jennifer Hudson's name was shown, there was, again, wild applause. A star has been born!!!
I went to a trade screening of "Dreamgirls" a few days ago and from the
first seconds of the film, you can tell that you're in for the time of
your life. To put it shortly, Bill Condon (director-writer) delivers
the goods with this film. It's most definitely the first of its kind.
It moves at a rapturous pace that leaves you breathless and delivers
performances that are both subtle and fittingly over the top.
The movie explains plot holes from the Broadway musical and adds many historical occurrences (Martin Luther King Jr., etc.) that gives the film a much more social awareness. Most of the sung dialogue from the musical is replaced with spoken with the exception of a few scenes. The music itself has always been wonderful, and this able cast performs it spectacularly.
The performances are something else. Jennifer Hudson, Eddie Murhpy, and Anika Noni Rose will blow you away. Murphy's vocals, though not as strong as his leading ladies, suit his character perfectly and shows a vulnerable side to him towards the end that we never knew he had. Rose makes the transition from a giggly little girl into a full-blossomed woman seamlessly, and Hudson-well, let's just say that any major hype you've heard about her does not do her performance justice. Beyonce Knowles will catch you off guard with her beautifully subtle performance, brilliantly channeling Diana Ross with her musical performances. Jaime Foxx, Keith Robinson, Danny Glover, and Sharon Leal also hand in admirable performances.
I could not recommend this film more. It gives hope AGAIN to the movie musical that "Chicago" revived and "The Phantom of the Opera", "Rent", and "The Producers" almost killed. I can't say whether this film will be the next "Chicago" (I do foresee MANY Oscar noms, including Best Pic and others), I certainly hope it will be. I dream it will be bigger. It is definitely not the next "The Producers". I can say this though: It is the first, and only, "Dreamgirls" that we will ever encounter.
The legendary Broadway musical hit the screen, resurrecting the thrill of the original. That, in itself, is a miracle. I suspect that the miracle worker is Bill Condon. The story is told as if it revealed something we've never seen before and his winning innocence triumphs. The casting of Eddie Murphy was a stroke of genius. He unfolds a new inedited face and I predict a new career. The predictability of the tale becomes rewarding rather than annoying and I was surprised and moved all the way through. Jammie Foxx's unsympathetic turn manages to deliver a punch of humanity. Byonce Knowles, Danny Glover and the rest of the cast are a perfect foil for Jennifer Hudson's Cinderella Story. Bravo Mr Condon!
I saw a preview screening of Dreamgirls on Nov. 15. and have to say I
was pretty blown away by it. I can always tell when a movie really hits
me because the thought immediately runs through my head, "Wow, I can't
wait to OWN this on DVD." Needless to say, Dreamgirls is now at the top
of my "To Buy" list.
I saw the original Michael Bennett production in 1985, a few years into its Broadway run when Jennifer Holliday was no longer in the Effie role. But even without Holliday I found the show and its score to be among Broadway's best. While I certainly hoped this movie would at least give us a respectable representation of what made the Broadway show so thrilling, I must admit I was afraid to get my expectations too high after the recent string of disappointing stage to screen musical transfers - Phantom of the Opera, Rent and The Producers. Yeah, I had heard the buzz was good for Dreamgirls, but, well, you know how that goes. Sometimes the bigger the buzz the flatter it falls.
And let's face it. Movie musicals are just flat-out tough to pull off. While I consider the number of truly great movies to be pretty small, the list of truly great movie MUSICALS is even smaller. And the ones that manage to do more than just recreate a literal adaptation of the stage play, truly utilizing the medium of film to create something bold and cinematic are almost non existent: Cabaret, Chicago...maybe one or two others...end of story. Plus, I think it's even more difficult to successfully transfer musicals to film today given modern audiences inability to accept characters "breaking into song."
So I hope I'm not adding to the already extensive hype when I report that, for me at least, Dreamgirls delivers big time. The film manages to achieve the near impossible task of remaining faithful to it's source material (in fact, several times it gives direct nods to Bennett's brilliant original staging) while utilizing the medium of film to it's fullest, creating something fresh and exciting in its own right.
Dreamgirls not only transitions seamlessly between spoken dialog and musical numbers, but redefines musical storytelling by using the musical artifice of "breaking into song" carefully and judiciously to punctuate only those moments in the movie when the emotion builds to the point where words can no longer adequately contain it. I can't express strongly enough how impressed I was with the way Bill Condon managed to handle these transitions. Truly masterful. But it's not just the transitions that are handled well. The movie is artfully rendered and exquisitely produced in literally every area with outstanding, heartfelt performances by each and every cast member. And yes, Jennifer Hudson is as good as they say. I can honestly say that there's no way I can imagine this film being done any better.
If there's any weak spot in Dreamgirls, it's the dramatic flaws inherent in the piece itself. The second act of the stage play (after "and I'm telling you I'm not going") was never quite as dramatically intense or focused as the first. And the movie feels pretty much the same way. But, believe me, this is a minor flaw compared to what's RIGHT about Dreamgirls.
Make no mistake. This film is going to be a triumph and earn a place in movie history. Not to mention my DVD library.
Fantabulous. Stupendous. I can't even believe it. I've changed my pick
for Best Picture this year so many times you'd think I have multiple
personalities. But let me tell you it's just been a tremendous year for
film. Kudos all around. I tell you none of the BP nominees last year,
could compete this year. And I loved Brokeback Mountain and Munich.
Dreamgirls is an amazing movie. I know what you're thinking. I didn't believe the hype either. But I saw it today and I actually don't think it's been hyped enough. Everyone deserves to be nominated. But it's just that kind of year, folks. Too many awesome performances not enough nominations. Of course the major buzz has been going to Jennifer Hudson and she does deserve as much praise as she's getting but that's because she's a 15. Everyone else is a 10. So she's better but it's ridiculous how awesome everyone else is. Of course Eddie Murphy's great. He's been in those movies where he plays like 10 fat people, which should have gotten him some recognition all these years, but of course they wouldn't go for that. But now that he's done such a great job here whatever awards he'll get, he'll deserve. And those of us who loved "Party All the Time" are definitely not surprised at his vocal prowess. Jamie Foxx is great again you know, but this time he's playing the villain so maybe that's why he's kinda been ignored. Anika Noni Rose. I don't know where she came from but I loved her too. All great voices. All great performances.
Beyonce. Okay, I'm not a huge fan. She's talented and I appreciated her acting from Austin Powers. Yeah that sounds weird but you could tell she was comfortable on screen and had a lot of fun. I don't generally like the way she and her contemporaries sing nowadays so I wasn't expecting much either way. I figured she'd be passable. But she did such a great job playing Diana Ross. Everything down to the gestures, and the fact that she wanted to lose weight for this, tells me that she definitely took her job seriously. And it paid off.
I think this is rated PG13. I can't remember why. I think there are a few bad words and one quick flash of some drugs. But I wouldn't mind taking a kid to this. Because there is so much more to it that's worth it. In a strange way I thought it would make a great double feature with Happy Feet. So much toe-tapping to be done. People waited in my theater through the credits for Jennifer Hudson's name/image to pop up and they all clapped. That never happens where I live either. Never. And there were little old ladies going "WOOHOO!" after a couple of Effie's songs.
If you like movies, this year go see everything. But make sure that you save time for this one. You're gonna love it.
The pumped up beats, the glamorous outfits, and that Motown sound -
YEAH! Something which the film industry's been waiting for since
Chicago won a Best Picture Nod at the Oscars in 2002.
The casting is pitch-perfect. Jennifer Hudson is astounding, which keeps you wondering about her departure from American Idol due to insufficient voting??!! That voice, and those emotions pave the way for Oscar glory. Beyonce Knowles, though many critics have credited her as the weakest link in the movie, is far from being weak. Her radiant-glamour and her 20lbs less voluptuous figure, shine whilst "the Dreams" are on stage. She is far from being the weakest link. As Deena Jones, Beyonce has the voice, experience, looks and talent. Eddie Murphy actually acts, and "NO!" -he does not over-act, play multiple characters, or provides unneeded humor- there is a vein of emotions displayed vividly in his character -James "Thunder" Early - from his love between his wife and back-up singer, drug addiction, and winding career. Its too bad, it took Murphy this long to realise his capability and potential in a significant contribution to the film industry. Jamie Foxx - is easily the weakest link. His performance is insipid and it seems like he has been pasted in the scenes to give them attitude and ego-ism. Though its a very Jamie Foxx character, and is pretty much Curtis Taylor Jr. Jamie Foxx's on-screen presence and performance was not good enough. Anika Noni-Rose did not receive the acclaim she deserved. Sure she is the least known in the cast, but her portrayal of Lorell was spot-on, and was as powerful as Eddie Murphy and Jennifer Hudson's performances. Her voice was amazing, and I hope this movie rockets her career.
The music especially the additional songs, gave this movie the final touches. Amazingly directed by Bill Condon, this is one movie, that lived up to its hype. Loved every bit of it.
Yes there are great performances here. Unfortunately, they happen in the context of a movie that doesn't seem to have a clue what it's doing. During the first 45-60 minutes of this all the music takes place as realistic performance. Suddenly, about an hour in, the characters who, until this point, had always spoken to each other, suddenly start singing to each other. To further confuse things, a little further in, out of nowhere, they actually do about 15 minutes of sung-through dialog, then seem to drop that idea and move on to other things, such as a number that begins in a jazz club with a drummer and two electric guitars suddenly turning into a fully orchestrated piece with a massive unseen string section. On top of all this inconsistency in how the music is used, is the composers' clear inability to actually write music in the style that is supposedly being portrayed. While the first couple of pieces do sort of mimic the 1950s Motown sound, the rest of the film is just (bad) Broadway show music. Then there's the pure silliness of snippets of a group doing a bad Jackson family imitation and Eddie Murphy morphing from Little Richard to James Brown to Lionel Richie. When he started channeling Stevie Wonder I couldn't help laughing out loud. This was clearly one of those films that make me appreciate how little time I have on earth and resent that I wasted two hours of it watching this film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Yeah. Pretty sure I saw this movie years ago when it was about the
Another recycled storyline glitzed up Hollywood-style, borrowing scripts from better making-it-in-the-music-industry films.
Nothing original here.
More make-up, glammier costumes and choreography = more money for the questionably "talented" Beyonce draw.
If you like the throwback style, you should appreciate actual groups who struggled (without having digitized voices and a Hollywood empire).
Beyonce's involvement makes this hypocritical garbage.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Dreamgirls, despite its fistful of Tony wins in an incredibly weak year on Broadway, has never been what one would call a jewel in the crown of stage musicals. However, that is not to say that in the right cinematic hands it could not be fleshed out and polished into something worthwhile on-screen. Unfortunately, what transfers to the screen is basically a slavishly faithful version of the stage hit with all of its inherent weaknesses intact. First, the score has never been one of the strong points of this production and the film does not change that factor. There are lots of songs (perhaps too many?), but few of them are especially memorable. The closest any come to catchy tunes are the title song and One Night Only - the much acclaimed And I Am Telling You That I Am Not Going is less a great song than it is a dramatic set piece for the character of Effie (Jennifer Hudson). The film is slick and technically well-produced, but the story and characters are surprisingly thin and lacking in any resonance. There is some interest in the opening moments, watching Jamie Foxx's Svengali-like manager manipulate his acts to the top, but that takes a back seat in the latter portion of the film, when the story conveniently tries to cast him as a villain, despite his having been right from a business stand-point for a good majority of the film. Beyonce Knowles is lovely and sings her songs perfectly well, but is stuck with a character who is basically all surface glitz. Anika Noni Rose as the third member of the Dreamgirls trio literally has nothing to do for the entire film. Eddie Murphy acquits himself well as a singer obviously based on James Brown, but the role is not especially meaty and ultimately has little impact. Foxx would seem ideal casting, but he seems oddly withdrawn and bored. The film's biggest selling point is surely former American Idol contestant/Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson in the central role of Effie White, the temperamental singer who gets booted from the group and makes a triumphant closing act return. For me, Effie has always been a big problem in both the show and the movie. The film obviously wants you to feel sorry for her and rather ham-handedly takes her side, but I have never been sure that this character deserves that kind of devotion. From the start, Effie conducts herself for the most part like an obnoxious, egotistical, self-centered diva, who is more interested in what everyone else can do for her rather than having much vested interest in the group of which she is a part. When she is booted from the group for her unprofessionalism and bad attitude, the charges are more than well-founded, but the stage show/film seem to think Effie should be cut unlimited slack simply because she has a great voice. Even though the film tries to soften some of Effie's harder edges to make her more likable, the charges still stand. Her story becomes more manipulative by suggesting she should have our further sympathy because she is an unwed mother struggling to raise her daughter - using the implication that (much like the talent card) motherhood immediately makes any behavior excusable. Indeed the only big effort the film makes to show Effie's mothering is to tell us about it and then include a scene where she barks at her daughter in the unemployment office, insists that the girl has "no father" and then refuse to look for gainful employment to support them since singing is all she knows. In the hands of a skillful actress, the gaps could perhaps have been remedied with technique and charisma. Unfortunately, Hudson is not that actress. She sings well, but the dialog-driven moments do not come naturally to her nor do high emotional moments. Effie's signature moment (the aforementioned And I Am Telling You... number) is well-sung by Hudson, but emotionally flat in the acting department. Effie is supposed to expressing her rage and desperation at her predicament, but Hudson comes off as a cabaret performer belting out a hot number. All in all, not quite the emotional highlight one expects. The latter portion of the film is basically a predictable melange of events that maneuver Foxx into Hudson's earlier position and allow her to strut back in and lord it over everyone. Foxx's criminal offenses in the film are undoubtedly par for the course of many struggling record producers, but the film's seeming implication that he has it coming because he helped usher in the disco era is rather ridiculous, not to mention pretentious and condescending, particularly coming from a film with all of the depth of a puddle. The end result is a faithful rendition of the stage hit, drained of emotion, energy or anything that can be described as dynamic.
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