Detroit, the early 1960s. Curtis Taylor, Jr., a car salesman, breaks into the music business with big dreams. He signs a trio of young women, the Dreamettes, gets them a job backing an R&B performer, James "Thunder" Early, establishes his own record label and starts wheeling and dealing. When Early flames out, Curtis makes the Dreamettes into headliners as the Dreams, but not before demoting their hefty big-voiced lead singer, Effie White, and putting the softer-voiced looker, Deena Jones, in front. Soon after, he fires Effie, sends her into a life of proud poverty, and takes Deena and the Dreams to the top. How long can Curtis stay there, and will Effie ever get her due?Written by
The motion picture is dedicated to Michael Bennett, the director, producer, and choreographer of the original Broadway production. See more »
In 2017, Paramount released a "Director's Extended Edition" of "Dreamgirls." This version runs ten minutes longer than the theatrical version and contains changes which include the following:
The opening talent show scene has extended performances of "I'm Looking' for Something'" and "Goin' Downtown," including a longer scene on the stairs outside the Detroit Theater, where Curtis offers Marty a cigarette and a sales pitch after Charlene and Joanne walk out on him, and Curtis catches a first glimpse of Deena
Sung dialogue leading up to "Steppin' to the Bad Side" ("You've got me to think for you now...") proceeds the scene in which Curtis tells Wayne and CC of his plan to sell off the car dealership, similar to the lead-up to the song in the original Broadway show. This scene takes the place of the shorter, spoken word alternate version used in the theatrical version
All shots of Wayne enacting Curtis' payload plans at radio stations are replaced with scenes of the Mafia members Curtis makes a deal with distributing the records and the money
The Jimmy & the Dreamettes performance section go "Steppin to the Bad Side" is extended
"Love You I Do" is extended by adding an instrumental break under the scene in which Michelle gets a job at Rainbow Records, and then showing Effie sing the song's second verse on camera
"Heavy" is extended by adding a break and a chorus, and placing more emphasis on Effie keeping an eye on Deena's image taking over the TV studio monitors
There is an extra shot of Curtis and Deena's mansion as Deena heads to the service car outside
An extra scene shows Curtis, C.C., Wayne and other Rainbow executives at a board meeting, at which Curtis decides to finance his "Cleopatra" film pet project with a 10th anniversary special (This scene includes two F-bombs by Jamie Foxx; the Director's Extended Edition is unrated as a result)
"Patience" is extended by adding extra choruses to the section in which Jimmy and Lorrell record the song, accompanied by a choir
"Perfect World" is extended by including a full verse and chorus
"I Meant You No Harm" and "Lorrell Loves Jimmy" are both extended by a few bars
Jimmy's silent glare at Deena basking in her fame at the Rainbow 10th anniversary TV special is replaced by sung dialogue ("Because I was here long before you...") similar to the "Firing of Jimmy" scene in the original Broadway show
"I Miss You, Old Friend" is extended by a few bars
"Effie, Sing My Song" - sung dialogue in which C.C. and Effie reconcile - is added in place of the spoken word alternate version used in the theatrical version
"One Night Only" is performed in full (only half is used in the theatrical version). At the conclusion of the song, Curtis' Mafia associates come to Effie's performance in Max Washington's bar, which is how they get word (and a tape) to alert Curtis
Curtis has an extra line of dialogue when being interviewed on the Dreams' farewell performance red carpet, in which he announces that his new artist, Tania Williams, will be releasing her debut album in a month
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.
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