Dreamgirls
PG-13
Entertainment: +2
Acceptability: -2

FILM SYNOPSIS: Twenty-five years after first bringing Broadway audiences to their feet, the Tony Award-winning musical sensation Dreamgirls comes to the big screen starring Academy Award winner Jamie Foxx, Beyonc Knowles, Danny Glover, newcomer Jennifer Hudson, Tony Award winner Anika Noni Rose and Eddie Murphy.

Set in the turbulent early 1960s to mid-70s, Dreamgirls follows the rise of a trio of womenEffie (Jennifer Hudson), Deena (Beyonc Knowles) and Lorrell (Anika Noni Rose)who have formed a promising girl group called The Dreamettes.At a talent competition, they are discovered by an ambitious manager named Curtis Taylor, Jr. (Jamie Foxx), who offers them the opportunity of a lifetime: to become the backup singers for headliner James Thunder Early (Eddie Murphy).Curtis gradually takes control of the girls look and sound, eventually giving them their own shot in the spotlight as The Dreams.That spotlight, however, begins to narrow in on Deena, finally pushing the less attractive Effie out altogether.Though the Dreams become a crossover phenomenon, they soon realize that the cost of fame and fortune may be higher than they ever imagined.

From Paramount and DreamWorks, directed by Bill Condon from a screenplay he adapted from the stage musicals original book by Tom Eyen.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Throughout this film, I felt disconnected, uncaring. That one nameless dynamic found in Funny Girl or even Chicago was missing in Dreamgirls. Both of those earlier films/plays concerned stage hopefuls, but also musical scores that could not be forgotten. While there are several nice moments in Dreamgirls, the ever present emotional tug of the plot never seems to effectively reach the viewer at least not this viewer. Im afraid the unsatisfying conclusion is a result of the direction, writing and performances.

There is a standout performance by Eddie Murphy. At first, because his character is so gregarious, Mr. Murphy doing those comic sleight-of-hands he has mastered over the years, it may be difficult to think of him in a dramatic sense. Like Woody Allen, Eddie causes audiences to laugh the moment we see him. We are anticipating something funny and sure enough, he delivers. But Eddie delivers so much more than gewgaws. Theres a depth to his performance that accentuates the tragedy his character undergoes. In my opinion, its an award-worthy performance.

The rest of the cast sadly left me cold. Beyonc is a beautiful woman, and perhaps a great singer, but because her character is supposed to have a thin voice compared to Effies, she never really belts out a number that emotionally grips you. But perhaps the biggest let down is the casting of Jennifer Hudson as Effie. A third season American Idol contestant, Ms. Hudson is unable to deliver a fleshed-out characterization.

Sadly, this generation believes in quantity over quality, which may explain the exuberant reaction to the exceedingly long, repetitive showstopper And I Am Telling You. While Ms. Hudson has the chops, she is not yet seasoned enough dramatically to carry such an important role. Whats more, being able to vocalize with the earsplitting volume of Tarzan doesnt make you a great singer. Now, I am in the minority on this point, as this generation seems to be enthralled by singers who highlight each number with a yodel-like vibrato in place of texture and phrasing. Very few singers today are able to color a note. They just blast it. Of course if I were able to convince under-thirties to listen to Streisand sing A Piece of Sky from Yentl or Ella Fitzgerald sing anything, the performances would probably go unappreciated. Styles and sensibilities change. To each his own. But dramatically, I stand by my assertion. Ms. Hudson doesnt have the dramatic skills to make Effie the focal character in a film that desperately needs a heart.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Paramount and DreamWorks

Summary
Crude Language: Some crude sexual innuendoes
Obscene Language: 20 or so uses of the s-word; one use of the f-word by Beyonc.
Profanity: I caught no misuse of Gods name.
Violence: Death by overdose off screen.
Sexual Intercourse: Implied sexual situations, including an adulterous affair.
Nudity: None
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: None
Drug Abuse: Some drinking and one character becomes a cocaine addict.
Other: None
Running Time: 131 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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