Dreamgirls, despite its fistful of Tony wins in an incredibly weak year on Broadway, has never been what one would call a jewel in the crown of stage musicals. However, that is not to say that in the right cinematic hands it could not be fleshed out and polished into something worthwhile on-screen. Unfortunately, what transfers to the screen is basically a slavishly faithful version of the stage hit with all of its inherent weaknesses intact. First, the score has never been one of the strong points of this production and the film does not change that factor. There are lots of songs (perhaps too many?), but few of them are especially memorable. The closest any come to catchy tunes are the title song and One Night Only - the much acclaimed And I Am Telling You That I Am Not Going is less a great song than it is a dramatic set piece for the character of Effie (Jennifer Hudson). The film is slick and technically well-produced, but the story and characters are surprisingly thin and lacking in any resonance. There is some interest in the opening moments, watching Jamie Foxx's Svengali-like manager manipulate his acts to the top, but that takes a back seat in the latter portion of the film, when the story conveniently tries to cast him as a villain, despite his having been right from a business stand-point for a good majority of the film. Beyonce Knowles is lovely and sings her songs perfectly well, but is stuck with a character who is basically all surface glitz. Anika Noni Rose as the third member of the Dreamgirls trio literally has nothing to do for the entire film. Eddie Murphy acquits himself well as a singer obviously based on James Brown, but the role is not especially meaty and ultimately has little impact. Foxx would seem ideal casting, but he seems oddly withdrawn and bored. The film's biggest selling point is surely former American Idol contestant/Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson in the central role of Effie White, the temperamental singer who gets booted from the group and makes a triumphant closing act return. For me, Effie has always been a big problem in both the show and the movie. The film obviously wants you to feel sorry for her and rather ham-handedly takes her side, but I have never been sure that this character deserves that kind of devotion. From the start, Effie conducts herself for the most part like an obnoxious, egotistical, self-centered diva, who is more interested in what everyone else can do for her rather than having much vested interest in the group of which she is a part. When she is booted from the group for her unprofessionalism and bad attitude, the charges are more than well-founded, but the stage show/film seem to think Effie should be cut unlimited slack simply because she has a great voice. Even though the film tries to soften some of Effie's harder edges to make her more likable, the charges still stand. Her story becomes more manipulative by suggesting she should have our further sympathy because she is an unwed mother struggling to raise her daughter - using the implication that (much like the talent card) motherhood immediately makes any behavior excusable. Indeed the only big effort the film makes to show Effie's mothering is to tell us about it and then include a scene where she barks at her daughter in the unemployment office, insists that the girl has "no father" and then refuse to look for gainful employment to support them since singing is all she knows. In the hands of a skillful actress, the gaps could perhaps have been remedied with technique and charisma. Unfortunately, Hudson is not that actress. She sings well, but the dialog-driven moments do not come naturally to her nor do high emotional moments. Effie's signature moment (the aforementioned And I Am Telling You... number) is well-sung by Hudson, but emotionally flat in the acting department. Effie is supposed to expressing her rage and desperation at her predicament, but Hudson comes off as a cabaret performer belting out a hot number. All in all, not quite the emotional highlight one expects. The latter portion of the film is basically a predictable melange of events that maneuver Foxx into Hudson's earlier position and allow her to strut back in and lord it over everyone. Foxx's criminal offenses in the film are undoubtedly par for the course of many struggling record producers, but the film's seeming implication that he has it coming because he helped usher in the disco era is rather ridiculous, not to mention pretentious and condescending, particularly coming from a film with all of the depth of a puddle. The end result is a faithful rendition of the stage hit, drained of emotion, energy or anything that can be described as dynamic.
Action / Drama / Music / Musical
Action / Drama / Music / Musical
Detroit, the early 1960s. Curtis Taylor, Jr., a car salesman, breaks into the music business with big dreams. He signs a trio of young women, the Dreamettes, gets them a job backing an R&B performer, James "Thunder" Early, establishes his own record label and starts wheeling and dealing. When Early flames out, Curtis makes the Dreamettes into headliners as the Dreams, but not before demoting their hefty big-voiced lead singer, Effie White, and putting the softer-voiced looker, Deena Jones, in front. Soon after, he fires Effie, sends her into a life of proud poverty, and takes Deena and the Dreams to the top. How long can Curtis stay there, and will Effie ever get her due?
Uploaded By: FREEMAN
Downloaded 27,674 times
September 04, 2018 at 07:36 AM