It reserves singing and dancing for the stage until Jamie Foxx just randomly bursts into verse while strolling down the street. Dreamgirls wants to be Effie but ends up as Deena: thin, smooth, unburdened by a personality.
This glitzy, infectious and unusually heartfelt musical doesn't always hang together as a satisfying narrative -- too many characters compete for too little screen time -- but its pleasures are numerous enough to override its flaws.
Joy is defined as Dreamgirls, an ecstatic dose of pure top-down Motown tight-harmony effervescence that takes a hit Broadway musical about a Chicago girl group and turns it, miraculously, into a Hollywood delight.
Condon has gotten terrific performances from almost everyone here. Knowles lives up to the promise she's shown in her earlier big-screen warm-ups. And Hudson proves to be as good in her dramatic scenes as she is in the musical ones.
As much as I appreciated the performances from the terrifically talented cast -- as much as I liked Dreamgirls -- I didn't love it. Maybe it was just a little too slick and over the top for its own good.
Fulfills the ecstatic promise inherent in all musicals -- that life can be dissolved into song and dance -- but it does so without relinquishing the toughest estimate of how money and power work in the real world that song and dance leave behind.