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Overall Rating

Awesome: 12.5%
Worth A Look: 24.11%
Just Average: 25%
Pretty Crappy29.46%
Sucks: 8.93%

7 reviews, 70 user ratings

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by EricDSnider

"And I am telling you, that one song is pretty impressive."
4 stars

You've probably heard about the show-stopping number in "Dreamgirls," the one called "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going," the one in which "American Idol" non-winner Jennifer Hudson assures herself a place in the pantheon of legendary vocalists. Since I dislike movie-related hyperbole, I would love to tell you that Hudson's talent has been overstated and that her performance of the song is nothing special. But in this case, the hype is accurate. Hudson's rendition of the song -- an angry, desperate, pitiful declaration of resolve -- is astonishingly powerful. It's one of the most breathtaking tours de force in the history of movie musicals.

The rest of the movie? Eh, it's fine. Director Bill Condon, who wrote the screen version of "Chicago" a few years back, has adapted this 1982 Tony winner with vigor, and the costumes and production design are every bit as fabulous as the show demands. Condon, also the consummate director of "Kinsey" and "Gods and Monsters," knows his way around biopics, musicals, and show business behind-the-scenes stories, all of which apply to "Dreamgirls." Yet for all its glitter and razzle-dazzle, this film version rarely connects on an emotional level. It feels superficial -- though I admit it's a pretty rousing and toe-tapping kind of superficiality.

Originally written by composer Henry Krieger (who has penned a few new tunes for the film) and the late lyricist Tom Eyen, "Dreamgirls" is a thinly veiled retelling of Diana Ross and the Supremes' career. In the fictional version, the Dreamettes are a Detroit trio -- uptight Deena (Beyonce Knowles), shy Lorell (Anika Noni Rose), and diva-in-training Effie (Jennifer Hudson) -- who catch their first break in the mid-1960s when an enterprising talent manager and part-time car salesman named Curtis Taylor (Jamie Foxx) books them as backup singers for womanizing R&B sensation James Early (Eddie Murphy).

Soon Curtis is moving the Dreamettes out on their own, with one adjustment: Though Effie has the strongest, most dynamic voice, she is also chubby and difficult to work with, so Curtis makes pretty and pliable Deena the lead singer and keeps Effie in the background, singing doo-wops with Lorell.

The second half of the film leaps into the mid-'70s. Deena and the Dreams are a huge hit, James Early has had all the funk and grunty energy sucked out of his act by his mainstream-minded manager Curtis, and Effie -- who was ultimately kicked out of the Dreamettes altogether -- is a single mother and a has-been, though poverty doesn't seem to have burned away her fiery temper or demanding attitude. Deena and Curtis are married, with him still acting as her manager, a combination that can only lead to trouble. And Lorell has been carrying on an illicit affair with James Early (a married man) for years.

The film subtly combines show business with personal business, the love of the crowd mingled with the love of a good man. Characters say "It's over" a lot, referring to relationships, business deals, love affairs, concert tours, or all of the above. When Effie insists, in that magnificent song, that it's NOT over, she means it two ways: She refuses to be kicked out of the group, and she refuses to let Curtis break up with her. Ironically, for as explosively powerful as the song is, in the end it's useless: It IS over, and she IS going, whether she likes it or not.

An evaluation of the ups and downs of a show business career is hardly new to "Dreamgirls," having once been the foundation for dozens of Golden Age Hollywood musicals. But the fact that "Dreamgirls" is about an African-American group, with musical accompaniment to match, is noteworthy, and one of Condon's minor changes in the stage-to-screen adaptation is to set the Dreamettes' story against the backdrop of the Civil Rights movement.

That gives it a little more weight, but it's still a glossy story with glossy characters. Effie is a fireball, sure, but Hudson's greatest acting is in that one number; her performance the rest of the time has a raw, natural feel to it (it's Hudson's first time acting), but it's nothing remarkable. Beyonce Knowles and Anika Noni Rose have done plenty of acting, but Knowles can't shake her bland pop-star roots, and Rose's character is secondary, too infrequently used to give her any chance to stand out.

I'll tell you who I like, though: Eddie Murphy. After floundering in poop-joke-centered family films for the last decade, he's found a role here that lets him be funny, thoughtful, charismatic, and adult. The full story of James Early, an R&B singer who sells out to the white man before staging a comeback, would be a nice companion piece to "Dreamgirls," and Murphy spruces up every minute of the film that includes him.

Mostly, "Dreamgirls" is a relief. Broadway adaptations have had mixed success since "Chicago," so at this point even a stand-up double feels like a home run, if you'll pardon my use of a sports metaphor. "Dreamgirls" isn't the revelation "Chicago" was -- it's neither as fun nor as catchy -- but it's a step in the right direction.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=15299&reviewer=247
originally posted: 12/22/06 03:25:45
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User Comments

10/20/08 mr.mike I am not a fan of musicals. I was entertained. 4 stars
10/14/08 Shaun Wallner Very Boring! 2 stars
9/05/08 Rada Sarbu I only watched it because I'm a fan of Beyonce. Otherwise I wouldn't have seen it. Its good 4 stars
8/18/08 Jeff Wilder An uplifting film with some genuine well-directed anger at the death of soul , 4 stars
7/29/08 the dork knight Not bad.........for what it is. Jamie Foxx is tiresome as usual 3 stars
3/17/08 RF This movie was so overhyped. Eddie Murphy and Jennifer Hudson made this movie worth watc 3 stars
7/04/07 Piz Fairly ho-hum and predictable the entire way, got worse as it went along 3 stars
5/14/07 Nita This movie was good!! Jennifer Hudson has a strong voice...Beyonce needs to sit down! 3 stars
5/13/07 Geoff It was a waste of time. Music was awful. 2 stars
5/08/07 Kerenda I reaaly love this move I cant stop watching it 5 stars
5/05/07 Total Crap I laughed everytime they sang during an argument. This movie is so fake but hudson was ok. 2 stars
5/04/07 Wendy Craig Maybe half an hour worth of story drawn out to 2+ hours. Yawn! 2 stars
4/28/07 David Pollastrini didn't think much of it. 3 stars
2/10/07 Michelle Cozzolino Would rather have watched paint dry; total waste of time 1 stars
2/09/07 Ema yes they picked top actors but the film was poor not a good likeness to motown! 1 stars
2/03/07 andyinindy Miserable. Wanted to walk out but strangely hypnotized by the carnage. Waste of 2 hours. 2 stars
2/03/07 liz cannot believe this thing is nominated for awards. bad bad bad. beyonce only good thing! 1 stars
2/02/07 zev absolute drivel a disgrace to motown 1 stars
1/29/07 sapphire think that eddie murphy is so fine in that movie and jeffer hudson is a good singer 5 stars
1/28/07 malcolm very good but i like more talking in movies, i bet it's amazing on stage 3 stars
1/28/07 brittany i hated this movie...a disgrace to motown and african americans. 1 stars
1/25/07 June Strueber Too shrill; nerve wrackingly unhappy people who one doesn't sympathize with. 3 stars
1/24/07 GinX Brilliant on the stage; loses a bit on the screen. Still worth seeing. 4 stars
1/24/07 chris plain awful. people walking out everywhere. only the simpletons were impressed. 1 stars
1/24/07 mara mara it was soo boooooooringggggggggggg 2 stars
1/24/07 Vee All hype! but if it wasn't for the dull-ass soundtrack I could forgive them it was PRETTY 3 stars
1/23/07 Suzz Ably brings back an era; great performances by Hudson and Murphy 5 stars
1/23/07 andrew pailate Haven't watched a movie with so many people walking out on it! I wish I was one of them! 1 stars
1/20/07 JUDY P. it was way too long. I liked the thrill of the beginning, but thats all 3 stars
1/19/07 fabe Eddie Murphy was the best. Jamie Fox was also good. I am liking him more and more. 4 stars
1/18/07 Paula H. Shallow characters, weak story, soul-less music. Bad adaptation of great stage production. 1 stars
1/18/07 Hollie Loved Eddie, but was disappointed with everything else!! 2 stars
1/18/07 Koitus Eddie Muphy was GREAT; Jimmie Fox was also good. Kind of an "eh" movie... 3 stars
1/16/07 Nora I was disappointed. Eddie Murphy was the best thing in it. 2 stars
1/14/07 Richard Unsympathetic characters. Boring music. Hudson screeches. 2 stars
1/13/07 Tanya This was almost as good as the original play 5 stars
1/12/07 Clayton The movie was subpar, at best, with a flimsy script, awkward directing and flat acting 2 stars
1/10/07 Keisha Tremendously overrated. Entertaining but the storyline was weak. 3 stars
1/08/07 Johnny Shack Hi Folks - I love music, but whn Hudson sang her loud piece, I wanted to jump out of my sea 2 stars
1/07/07 Brian F. Walked out along with another group. Awful songs, dragging plot. BLECH. 1 stars
1/05/07 Firpin The music was not R & B. It was terrible 1 stars
1/04/07 Emar The movie was great. Jennifer was outstanding. You are clueless! 5 stars
1/04/07 Kathy Rivers A bit confussing, trying to find any depth to the cast. 3 stars
12/31/06 Brittney This movie was really good! Jennifer did a great job! 5 stars
12/31/06 Shannon (Erik Childish is Fascist) Loved the Movie but did have story issues. Jennifer Hudson, first time acting...Brilliant! 4 stars
12/31/06 Allen Hackneyed, overrated, boring 2 stars
12/30/06 Angie This movie is all the hype & more! How could anyone not like it? I've seen it 2x; GREAT!!!! 5 stars
12/30/06 tina The over-the-top ballads made me cry, but the story line and acting was sometimes weak 4 stars
12/30/06 mz. nermalz this movie was phenomical. I was worried that it wouldn't live up to the hype, but it did! 5 stars
12/30/06 Charlotte I was disappointed. The story wasn't compelling and the songs were average at best. 2 stars
12/29/06 Y. Nowlin How can anyone take a nap, during one of Jennifer Hudson's powerful performances? 5 stars
12/29/06 julie Was looking foward to a great flick...disappointed..Hudson was the best for sure 2 stars
12/28/06 Sally This is a Broadway musical about the 1960s, and a damn good one 4 stars
12/28/06 martin boring 2 stars
12/28/06 Greg L This movie's both a pastiche of Ross' 70s movies & a catalog of every showbiz morality tale 3 stars
12/28/06 Richard Naujoks This movie knocked me out- the reviewer doesn't like musicals-why is he reviewing it? 4 stars
12/27/06 M.J. Erik, don't be so mean. Those who can, do. Those who can't, criticize. 4 stars
12/27/06 Luisa The singing was good, but it got to the point where "ok enough already!" 3 stars
12/26/06 Carol Carney Why all the hype? Took a nap through it! 3 stars
12/26/06 fenixcarey Okay, so go see it again, take your shades off, turn your EAR PEACE up, then give a review 5 stars
12/26/06 Candice It's FICTION, Erick! See it for what it is, entertainment. 4 stars
12/25/06 Michael When Hudson's "Holiday" performance is called stank, then the wrong person is reviewing 5 stars
12/25/06 T.R. You are too knit picky, this is a musical!! Not a drama! 5 stars
12/25/06 Jeannie Blum I loved this movie. Your reviewer here seems determined to find problems with it. Too bad c 5 stars
12/25/06 Bobbi J. Hudson is an outstanding singer, but they should've let her sing different style songs 4 stars
12/20/06 steven lass Not even close to Jennifer Holliday's performance 3 stars
12/20/06 Lance White I loved it, and so did most of the audience in the theatre! 4 stars
12/15/06 Li Wright Some things I agree with, overall this is a stunning looking and sounding movie 4 stars
12/15/06 Sam Caldwell A Glorious Holiday Movie Worth Seeing 4 stars
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  15-Dec-2006 (PG-13)
  DVD: 01-May-2007



[trailer] Trailer

Directed by
  Bill Condon

Written by
  Bill Condon

  Jamie Foxx
  Beyonce Knowles
  Eddie Murphy
  Danny Glover
  Anika Noni Rose
  Jennifer Hudson

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