Dreamgirls is fantastic and will take home bushels of Oscars. It has at least four, maybe five performances of that caliber; it’s perhaps the best musical I’ve ever seen, and I include Moulin Rouge and Chicago in that statement. It does have a few flaws (which I’ll get into around paragraph three) but overall it’s a “can’t miss.” It’s compelling, uplifting, thought provokingÃ¢â‚¬Â¦ well clearly this is a Christmas gift from the movie gods.
The story of Dreamgirls is the creation of a black owned music label and the primary band on the label, The Dreamettes. The group is comprised of a bawdy lead vocalist played by Jennifer Hudson, and two backup vocalists, one of whom is played by Beyonce Knowles (you may have heard of her). Jaime Foxx plays the label creator and rep, and Eddie Murphy is Jimmy “Thunder” Early, a headliner whom the girls start their career as back-up for. Dreamgirls takes the journey of the girls as they grow into women and headliners in their own right.
I’ll note the only negatives I can conjure up real quick-like so we can get into the plentiful goodness. As we are dealing with a musical here there are a few odd transitions from dialogue to crooning. People tend to break out into song right smack dab in the middle of conversations but I’m guessing that’s only going to annoy you if hate musicals in the first place. The other tiny complaint is the length. This movie is a long 131 minutes. The issue is the amount of three minute songs loaded into Dreamgirls. They are good, but the staggering 36 musical numbers start overwhelming your senses near the end. If you’re an impatient or non-sentimental sort these two issues may mean you should take a pass. Oh, one last thing, the marketing campaign has been deplorable on this. Trust me when I tell you not to watch a trailer beforehand. It will suck all the twists and turns right out of your experience. Overall these three factors are mere pebbles on the Oscar road, no big deal.
Now the good. Eddie Murphy. Think about it. Think about the Eddie you used to love, the one at the absolute top of his game that passed away about a decade and a half ago. Now give him the ultimate in singing and dancing powers to go with the high wattage grin and comic timing. The guy is stunningly good here, Oscar good, career reviving good. I can’t recommend Eddie Murphy enough. If you’ve ever liked him before you’ll be thrilled with him here. Soak all the glorious Eddie in that you can. We may never see him at these heights again.
But even he doesn’t stand up to the hurricane that is Jennifer Hudson. Holy Good God; she absolutely crushes everything in her path as Effie White. The set of pipes on this girl is astounding but that’s not even her main contribution. She’s asked to play a very difficult role with substance and nuance, a role that in lesser hands would have been a butcher job. I’ve watched every American Idol season (not because I wanted to) but someone had to tell me she’d been a contestant because she bears no resemblance to that girl. An Oscar nomination is certain, a victory would be justice.
See Dreamgirls. That’s the one piece of advice I can give you. It has a complex and interesting storyline and I’m told it holds up well against the original Tony Award winning Broadway show. It has highs and lows, laughs and thoughtful moments too. Dreamgirls is not the best film of the year, but it’s in the conversation, and it very well may be the one film that both critics and the general public can find common ground in as a worthy piece of art. I loved it. I hope you do too.