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Posted on 1/22/07 10:07 AM
Someone asked me shortly after I watched 'Dreamgirls' whether or not it was worth the hype. The answer is yes. Although it's main fault is that it runs too long, resulting in some dragging in the third act, this film has style, heart, a strong cast, a tight script, good music, and great direction. Bill Condon brings great style to this Broadway adaptation, but he definitely gives it heart as well. It tells the story of three best friends who have formed an all female girl group called 'The Dreamettes'. When the girls try to break in to the music industry at a talent competition, they get their lucky break from Curtis Taylor Jr. (a sly Jamie Foxx) who gets them a job singing back-up for the popular James "Thunder" Early (a magnificent Eddie Murphy). Soon after, the girls get to make their own record. But the good news comes with a price when Curtis decides to switch out the powerhouse voiced (but broad hipped) Effie White (a star-making and powerful Jennifer Hudson) for the more lean and beautiful back-up singer Deena Jones (Beyonce Knowles, giving a surprisingly subtle and emotional performance). In the meantime, third member Lorell Robinson (Anika Noni-Rose) begins a relationship with James Early, and Curtis leaves Effie for Deena, prompting her to sing the most emotional song in the film (and it's high point) "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going". Everyone in the cast plays the part well (with the exception of a miscast Keith Robinson as Effie's song-writing brother C.C.). But special mention must be given to Jennifer Hudson and Eddie Murphy. Hudson brings the strongest vocals, but she also makes Effie both a force to be reckoned with and a woman to sympathize with. Murphy turns "Thunder" Early into more than just a hip-swiveling James Brown-esque performer, and makes him an aging musician who might be sacrificing too much of himself for the sake of making records that sell. Both are Oscar worthy. Dreamgirls deserves to be the type of film that has both strong critical and commercial success, and I'll bet that it does.