Director: Bill Condon
Cast: Jamie Foxx, Beyonce Knowles, Eddie Murphy, Jennifer Hudson, Anika Noni Rose, Keith Robinson, Danny Glover
I'm not really a fan of musicals. The best one I've ever watched was The Sound Of Music. That one really stood out among every other musical ever made for film, such as Moulin Rouge (which was quite good) and The Phantom Of The Opera (which was overdramatic). So how does Dreamgirls fare?
Based on the Broadway musical and loosely inspired by The Supremes' true life story, Dreamgirls tells the story of the highs and lows of a trio of black women aspiring to be singers in the 1960s. Effie White, Deena Jones and Lorell Robinson form a group called The Dreamettes and enter themselves in a talent contest. Their performance catches the eye of music mogul Curtis Taylor Jr, who gets them a gig doing backup singing for well-known black popstar James "Thunder" Early. Curtis also hires Effie's brother C.C. to help write songs for them.
As they progress, they soon realise that selling black music to the masses, mainly made up of white folks is tough. So Curtis resorts to all kinds of tactics, from paying off the right people to getting gigs at places frequented by white people. Then he does something drastic when he tries to market the girls as artistes in their own right: replace Effie with Deena to sing lead. This doesn't go down well with the former, who tries to slip into her new role as backup singer, but eventually gets fed up and leaves the group.
Curtis gets a replacement and continues pushing the girls forward, as Effie tries to make it on her own. More turbulence awaits as Curtis resorts to more underhanded maneuvers, while the members fall in and out of love with the men in their lives, namely Deena and Curtis & Lorell and James. Things come to a head when Effie comes back to the music world solo.
OK, now for the reason why I don't really dig musicals. They have singing sessions every 5 minutes, and even though this movie is set in the entertainment business, not all performances take place on stage with an audience watching. It is a musical after all, so expect the characters to burst into song when you least expect it. Granted, some songs like It's All Over and Steppin' To The Bad Side were quite charming. But some of the other numbers just stretch over 5 or 6 minutes, and it gets very tiresome after a while. The fact that the movie is over 2 hours long doesn't help either.
Kudos to Hudson for making Effie stand out, though I felt that her Oscar win for best supporting actress was more due to her singing and not her acting. She has a voice that truly grabs your attention throughout the film. Murphy nearly steals the show portraying James Early. It's nice to see him in a serious role instead of those obnoxious multiple personality comedies he's so famous for. Beyonce is just well, Beyonce. Sure she can sing, but if she wants to be taken seriously as an actress, she should stop playing herself on screen. Jamie Foxx of course, does not disappoint as the cold and sneaky Curtis.
I'd recommend this film for people who like musicals, though it's probably not the best one out there. If you don't like musicals, try watching something else. (3/5)