Last night I sat down to watch “Dreamgirls” starring Jennifer Hudson and Beyonce Knowles (among many others). I thought it was a good movie. Jennifer Hudson was fantastic as Effie White and totally deserved the award she got for Best Supporting Actress. I was stumped by Eddie Murphy’s role as Jimmy Early – I didn’t feel there was any depth there to garner a nomination for Best Supporting Actor. Granted, it was a dramatic role for a man who has exclusively done comedies (I can’t think of a single drama he may have been in, and even his action movies have strong comedic elements to them) but was it a powerfully emotional performance? Not really. *shrug*
The Dreamettes are a girl group making the talent-show rounds when they’re discovered by car salesman and aspiring music manager Curtis Taylor Jr. Sensing greatness (as well as a new marketing opportunity) Curtis signs the Dreamettes as backup singers for R&B star James “Thunder” Early. But when Early’s mercurial ways and singing style don’t mesh with primarily white audiences, Curtis moves the newly-renamed Dreams to center stage–with Deena as lead singer in place of Effie. And that’s not the only arena in which Effie is replaced, as Curtis abandons their love affair for a relationship with star-in-the-making Deena.
I never saw the play, so I’m not able to do comparisons, but I have read that they took out a few songs and replaced them with new ones in the movie. The songs that made the cut were great and thoroughly enjoyable. As expected, Jennifer Hudson’s take on “And I Am Telling You” was spellbinding. Simply amazing and heartbreaking.
The story itself was interesting – as much as some Motown people want to claim it is NOT the story of the rise of Diana Ross & The Supremes, it’s certainly very close. The director and costumer of the movie do a great job of turning Beyonce into a mini-Diana throughout the whole movie (which spans the 1960s-1970s). But surprisingly, Beyonce Knowles wasn’t the “lead” in this movie. In fact, no one really was. Most characters got a fair amount of screen time, which was nice. It was a true “ensemble” movie, even though Jennifer Hudson stole the show.
3 1/2 cadillacs out of five.