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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Friday, Dec. 19, 2014

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In Movies & TV

"Dreamgirls" will make people happy

No matter how much Beyonce Knowles denies that she is jealous of all the attention Jennifer Hudson is receiving for "Dreamgirls," it's hard to believe. "Dreamgirls" is Hudson's first time out on the big screen, first time acting on a large scale, and she killed it. She out sung, out performed and out shined all of her costars. Frankly, the nominations for Best Actress in all the award shows should be flooding in her direction.

The audience is thrown into the world of singers and performers from the beginning of "Dreamgirls." In Detriot, a trio of friends sneak out of their homes to perform in a talent competition. The Dreamettes -- Effie White (Hudson), Deena Jones (Knowles) and Lorrell Robinson (Anika Noni Rose) -- get more than they expect out of the competition even though they don't win.

Backstage they meet Curtis Taylor (Jamie Foxx) who wants them to sing backup for renowned R&B singer James "Thunder" Early (Eddie Murphy). Of course the girls agree and they spend time touring the country.

Curtis' ideas get bigger and he gets the Dreamettes their own show. However, he makes a few changes to the line up. In order to make it big, Curtis knows he has to appeal to all races, which means that he replaces deep-voiced Effie for the more pop-friendly Deena. But he throws the group into a state of chaos which ultimately has Effie kicked out of the group.

The group becomes Deena Jones and the Dreams, a super R&B girl group selling out arenas and records while Effie finds herself down and out, working in a small lounge. Curtis starts alienating everyone around him, but he also takes to some underhanded schemes.

But having such a deep history, the Dreams and Effie are set to have a positive reunion.

The concept of having "Dreamgirls" brought to the big screen has been a dream for so long. The film once had Whitney Houston attached to it. The story which mimics the story of the rise of Diana Ross and the Supremes, although it's not a true biography just inspired by, finally makes it to theaters and all who watch it should be blown away.

Director and screenwriter Bill Condon made "Dreamgirls" a beautiful project. It's almost perfection while watching the story of ups and downs in the music business and in life itself. He took each and every character, actor and story and made them worth watching every single second of the two hour movie.

When it comes to turning a musical into a movie that's believable and relatable, filmmakers tread a fine line. How much of the musical must be turned into dialogue versus singing? "Rent" faced this problem as did "Chicago." "Dreamgirls" transformed many of the songs into regular dialogue. The only questionable choice would be the inclusion of "Family" as a song. In the scene, Effie is told she's part of the family, but it's quite corny and almost laughable. But it's a single song in a movie full of them.

"Dreamgirls" stayed true to the original story though, including all the pertinent songs and even adding a few more. The new song "Listen" that appears on Knowles' album "B'Day" as well as the soundtrack just seems to fit in the story. The song "Patience" also makes for a poignant addition.

Hudson was made for the role of Effie. Her voice on songs like "And I Am Telling You," "One Night Only" and "I Am Changing" are chilling and stunning renditions. Watching all the press for the movie, Hudson comes off as a God-fearing and polite woman, but the fire and diva attitude she brings to Effie just makes one wonder how she was only found on "American Idol."

The other standout performance of the movie goes to Murphy. He doesn't tout himself as a singer, although he did put out a few songs in the '80s. But he's a total entertainer. As Jimmy Early, Murphy's emotions and performance run the gamut from happy, glitz out singer to the drug addict that wants a change in his life.

The hype from this movie has been extensive. The actors have been on the road promoting everywhere, all the talk shows and entertainment programs. But the hype isn't a bunch of hot air, it's more than deserved. "Dreamgirls" should go down as one of the best musical adaptations in movie history. Rating:


EliCash | July 13, 2007 at 6:14 p.m. (report)

Oh my god- this movie is LAUGHABLE, it was awful. The most overrated movie of last year, for SURE. I can't believe some of the awards/rave reviews it got... I hated it so much... NightmareGirls is more like it ( I just wish that had more of a 'ring' to it, but it's the best description I can think of)

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Mezzoid | Dec. 30, 2006 at 6:41 p.m. (report)

The movie is BRILLIANT. Yeah, "Family" is the lamest song in the movie BUT it sets up the hypocrisy when Effie is turned out of the family later, and there's also a reference to it in the final song. So cutting it is not an option - it's too bad it sounds like a piece of "smooth jazz" crap.

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