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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 brianorndorf

"Without Eddie Murphy and Jennifer Hudson, there would be no reason to go"
2 stars

Allow me to assume my Grinch moment of the holiday season: “Dreamgirls” just isn’t all that good. The costumes sparkle and the actors sweat up a storm trying to entertain the crowds, but the movie pieces together horribly, and if you can’t follow the emotional arc of the characters, who really gives a damn about the songs.

As a struggling girl group in the early 1960s, The Dreams, Deena (Beyonce Knowles), lead singer Effie (Jennifer Hudson), and Lorell (Ankia Noni Rose), find their big break when offered a chance from manager Curtis Taylor (Jamie Foxx) to sing backup for superstar James “Thunder” Early (Eddie Murphy). When their fame eclipses Early’s, The Dreams are set for a breakthrough when Taylor makes glamorous Deena the new lead and pushes the heavier Effie to the background. Over the next two decades, the rise and fall of The Dreams is chronicled through betrayal, heartache, and redemption as the women fight for their individuality and success.

“Dreamgirls” is a supernova musical that demands nothing less than to be adored. This new film adaptation of the 1981 Broadway blockbuster certainly has the demand part right, but lacks a sufficient argument why it should be venerated. The big screen version is a deafening muddle, pulled apart by booming vocal power, melodramatic performances, and zips through time faster than Doc Brown’s De Lorean.

It seems sacrilege to even consider frowning during this motion picture, but writer/director Bill Condon makes it easy to lose the faith. Somewhere in his translation he’s lost the heart and soul of “Dreamgirls,” placing emphasis instead on the robotic machinations of the plot rather than the wounded emotions and double-crossing that defined its sinful pleasures on the stage.

Perhaps Condon was too wrapped up in the technicality of it all. Perfectly executed production values and great effort bring out the splendor of the musical numbers; “Dreamgirls” could never be criticized for skimping on details. It’s a candied, lovely recreation of the Motown era, with Condon pulling out all the glittery stops to amp up the pageantry of the music and the stage dynamism from the performers. Especially in the first hour, “Dreamgirls” is a tech marvel: cameras swoop in and out, and colors pop off the screen and dance in front of your eyes.

However, Condon is less confident trying to communicate the passage of time; I’m sure “Dreamgirls” was never meant to accurately reflect the trials and tribulations of The Supremes and their disastrous history, but the material surely reaches for an epic take on the rise and fall of Motown’s dominance.

That’s a lot of backstory and character relationships to sort through, and after some time spent putting the puzzle pieces together, Condon gets impatient, and begins to glide through important stops in every character’s journey. Effie goes from a star to a welfare mother in an alarmingly short amount of time, bested only by Early’s quickie descent into drug abuse. There are little gaps like that all over the screenplay, building toward a gaping hole of character comprehension by the end of the film. Condon nervously fixes this problem by pumping even more glitter in front of the camera.

Even if the audience couldn’t care less about the personal lives of these cardboard personalities, the acting more than jolts the movie when it needs it. To see Eddie Murphy in a role that doesn’t require total humiliation is a mind-altering experience. As the James Brown/Jackie Wilson hybrid Early, Murphy is a pure delight, effortlessly delivering his own vocals and perfecting the on-stage strut of a black artist in the 1960s. Early’s scenes are the film’s highlights.

The same could be said of newcomer Jennifer Hudson, who simply blows her fellow Dreams away with this, her first foray into feature film acting. Blessed with a voice that could rotate the planet, Hudson gives a tremendous reading of Effie’s musical obstruction, leading to a bombastic performance of “And I’m Telling You I’m Not Going,” which is the film’s singular moment of usable musical catharsis. Hudson blows away Knowles and Rose with her unnervingly confident stage performance, and doesn’t embarrass herself in the least away from the microphone. If anyone deserves to play Oscar-bait in “Dreamgirls,” it’s Hudson and her healthy pipes.

In the wake of triumphant, Oscar-winning musical bio-pics such as “Ray” and “Walk the Line,” “Dreamgirls” appears to have missed its prime opportunity to make the same lasting impact it did on Broadway 25 years ago. The music thunders, the vocals tower, and the costumes sparkle, but there’s no meat to this empty production. It’s sweating so hard to entertain that it forgets to engage.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=15299&reviewer=404
originally posted: 12/15/06 10:36:51
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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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