Dreamgirls: Glitzy Musical Review

January 8th, 2020

Dreamgirls is based on the successful Broadway musical and adapted to the screen by Bill Condon who also directed the film. I went to see this movie with no high expectations, as I did not know much about it. It wasn’t until recently that I knew that it was a musical on Broadway. The day after I saw the movie I found out that Jennifer Hudson (the undeniable break-out star of the film) was an American Idol loser. The only thing I knew was that Beyoncé Knowles was in it. I was surprised to see Jamie Foxx in the movie, I wasn’t expecting him. With no prior knowledge of the film and no high expectations I was pretty much a clean slate. I did hear the controversial statements that Beyoncé Knowles made about her co-star Jennifer Hudson that I found rather disgusting. Overall, I wasn’t too excited to see it, but I went for the curiosity factor. I have to admit that in the end, I ended up loving the film. I found the “Supremes” similarities to be funny in a good way and also loved the musical performances especially Jennifer Hudson’s. American Idol audiences made a mistake. This woman has a voice to match and surpass Beyoncé’s. I guess that is one of the reasons Beyoncé was so arrogant and dismissive when she was asked about her co-star’s abilities. As for Jennifer Hudson, her time has come and I can hope that her career flourishes and that she makes the right career moves to have a great spot in Hollywood history.

The movie is about a trio of young African American women in the early sixties who have talent, but have not been able to catch a break. After loosing yet another amateur talent show, Curtis Taylor Jr. (Jamie Foxx) takes these girls under his wing and makes them backup singers and dancers for James “Thunder” Early (Eddie Murphy). He is a so-so R B; singer who is very flashy and too touchy feely with his backup singers. From there on slowly but surely Curtis Taylor Jr. begins to take over the lives and careers of everyone. The Motown references are there and also the intrigue of behind the scenes backstabbing and clawing to the top that many artists of that era had to do to be famous. For her first movie Ms. Hudson certainly takes over the movie when she is on the screen. The role is the most interesting and the most poignant. The theme is not that difficult to understand: we live in a world where beauty is queen even if it is not really talented. I laugh to myself because I actually wrote an op-ed on this same issue a few weeks ago. The themes of the idolization of beauty are as old as the world itself. Preferring beauty over talent (intelligence, strength of character, etc.) is something that all of us are guilty of even if it is just once. Even though Effie (played magnificently by Jennifer Hudson) is the best in the trio, she has the talent and the sassiness to pull the group through. However because of her size and her non-white features the position of lead is giving to Deena Jones (Beyoncé Knowles as a good interpretation of her possible real self). She lacks the personality and the voice, but she is beautiful and has enough white features to attract white audiences (it sounds eerily familiar). It is not until much later that she becomes a personality of her own, however as her manager and husband (Curtis Taylor Jr.) plainly tells her, her musical persona is really what he put into it. Deena does redeem herself somewhat in the movie and gains her own strength in the end. Effie, who falls from grace so sadly, does find her voice and a way to come back from the dark times. It is a movie about our culture’s perceptions of beauty and fame. It is also a movie about failures and redemptions.

I feel like I haven’t spoken enough about Jennifer Hudson’s performance. Her tour de force acting at times made me feel so emotionally attach to her. “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” is a clear Oscar contender for Best Song. The supporting cast for the movie included Anika Noni Rose who is part of the original trio and Danny Glover in a subdued yet good performance. The movie is not perfect, it is very rare for a movie to reach that label, but it should at the very least generate enough Oscar buzz to get some awards if not the Oscars itself. It is great that because of movies like Moulin Rouge and Chicago musicals are seeing some type of resurgence on the big screen. The soundtrack for this movie should sell well and it should be a great addition to any movie soundtrack collector. I would recommend this movie overall as it does live up slightly to the hype. The messages in the movie alone should be discussed in family. The importance of enriching our souls with the right things over the fake is a good message for anyone. Learning to love one self and not to let go of one’s dreams is also a very good message, especially for young women everywhere.

Be it broadway or films, a good performance is what is lacking these days with most of the celebrities being ‘superstars’ rather than ‘actors, unlike what we used to have in the olden times where stars shone simply through the virtue of their acting skills rather than starpower, which they got only through good acting. For more such classics, you can download them from the site rainierland.