DREAMGIRLS: PLEASE DON’T WAKE ME UP
Dreamgirls is a story you may have seen before. But that doesn’t mean you won’t enjoy it this time around. The movie was adapted for film by its director, Bill Condon (Kinsey, Gods and Monsters). From the music, the acting, the costumes, to the set direction, the movie is excellent. This film continues the trend of quality musicals at the movies (Chicago, Moulin Rouge).
Deena (Beyonce Knowles), Effie (Jennifer Hudson), and Lorrell (Anika Noni Rose) are the Dreamettes. Effie has got the voice, Deena has the looks, and they all have the moves. They meet Curtis Taylor Jr. (Jamie Foxx) by chance at a local talent show in Detroit. Curtis asks them to become the backup singers for James ‘Thunder’ Early (Eddie Murphy). This backup gig takes them on the road and eventually leads them to their own act. When Curtis chooses Deena to become lead vocals, Effie spirals out of control. Once she leaves, the new ‘Dreams’ become a hit and Deena is shot to stardom while Effie struggles to make ends meet. The movie chronicles all the girls and their men as they go through their ups and downs of being famous or in Effie’s case, infamous.
This story is your basic rags to riches tale. It shows that stardom isn’t all that it is cracked up to be. It was adapted from the Broadway hit of the same name, which was successful in the early 80s. The whole cast is great. As you have probably heard, Jennifer Hudson steals the show as Effie. She commands your attention with her attitude while she is talking and with her voice when she is singing. If you were an American Idol fan the season she was on, it makes you wonder what Simon Cowell was thinking. The set direction and costumes are beautiful and authentic. Sharen Davis, who did the costumes for Ray showcases her talent for flair with the enticing and numerous costumes for the Dreams. The music narrates the story and emotions being felt. My favorite tune was “Steppin’ to the Badside”, a commentary on payola (when radio stations were paid off by record labels to play only certain tunes), which was prevalent during this time.
The movie is not perfect but it comes very close. As good as I thought Eddie Murphy is as Jimmy Early, I did see a few glimpses of his characters from Beverly Hills Cop and 48 Hrs. But his performances on stage were fun and lively.
As I said, Dreamgirls continues the tradition of great movies that are musicals. It is a nice change of pace for its director Bill Condon, who as of late has done heavier stuff. It shows that Beyonce Knowles is finally working on her acting skills. And Jennifer Hudson shows that she doesn’t need to.