Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Dreamgirls...too dreamy

Dreamgirls - Bill Condon - 2006 - 7/10


In the story loosely based on Barry Gordy's Motown act, the Supremes, rising music producer Curtis Taylor Jr. (Jamie Foxx) finds three female singers to sing back up for James "Thunder" Early (Eddie Murphy) just in time for Early's show. The girls, performing under the group name the "Dreamettes" are Deena Jones (Beyonce Knowles), Lorrell Robinson (Anika Noni Rose) and Effie White (Jennifer Hudson), who sings lead. The girls' popularity rises faster than Thunder's and they are soon tearing it up without him, although to generate a new "sound," Deena Jones takes over as lead singer, breaking the dreams of Effie. As some of the characters' stars rise quickly, some fall just as hard, with Curtis in the background fueling the stars in either direction, whichever way he pleases.


After watching this movie on my last night as a teenager I listened to Michael Jackson's "Thriller," and it wasnt even close. Little Michael. At the same time, Dreamgirls does okay at what it wanted to - great music, okay story, good show. It's hard to knock the movie, because it IS a good movie.

But the story it tries to tell is hard to tell in two hours. The last movie its kind I liked, a four TV special on the Temptations WAS four hours. Frankly there were too many songs - too many scenes of shows the girls did and too many times CC (Keith Robinson) or Curtis were speaking in song. For a musical, you would say this is a viewer problem, but really, the songs start to take away from the story. There just is not enough development of anything really. Important things happen too quickly and often you do not see them coming, like when Deena shacks up with Curtis or when Effie supposedly drinks her life away. In this sense, it seems like the movie jumps around at times. This problem is made worse by the movie's inability to decide which direction it wants to go in. Simple things like who should be the main protagonist are muddied by an ensemble cast where Jennifer Hudson really is the main character and the main protagonist.

The story is cluttered with characters like Thunder, who although I liked him, doesnt seem to advance the plot. His character might have been necessary, but his role could have been a lot smaller. The protagonist really should have been Curtis, but instead the movie decided to criticize Gordy and push Curtis to the bring of being an antagonist. The movies themes of fame, fortune, dreams, vision, love, loss, betrayal, would have been shown perfectly if Curtis' character had built a reccording empire only for it to fall away as his wife lost interest in him or bigger agents stole his talent. Maybe that would have made the movie too typical, but it would have made more sense and leant more to a stable plot. Another thing that hurts character development (I know this is going to sound racist) is that all the characters looked the same. Especially because they always had matching outfits and matching wigs and they all acted the same. When the group became (what I thought of) a revolving door, it really was just the actresses looking different for the first time. This just added to the confusion.

Jennifer Hudson won a supporting oscar for this movie, which although her performance and singing was superb, she should have been in the best actress category. Yes, the oscars are screwed up like that and yes in ensemble casts there isnt a main actress really, but at the same time, she was the closest there was to a main actress and she was far from being "supporting." Eddie Murphy supposedly got robbed of his oscar, but its no wonder he didnt win - his character simply didnt have the screen time or really, the lines, to go the distance to take home the statue. Just because Eddie dreamed about it, doesnt mean it was going to come true. Furthermore, I would go so far as to say that Eddie's character should not have been in the movie because he seemingly is not based on any specific Motown act (the closest I could think of was Atlantic soul-man Jackie Brown) AND he doesn't really do anything for the movie. Sure, he shows how Curtis uses people and destroyed lives, but so does Effie's character.


I wanted to dislike this movie, but I couldnt.

If you liked this movie, watch...
...The Temptations (1998 TV)

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