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Title: DreamGirls

Year Of Release: 2006

Review Date: January 31, 2007

Rating: PG-13

Running time: 125 minutes

Box Office Gross: 64,000,000

Recommendation: Bland retelling of the Supremes' story that did not live up to the hype and press buzz.

Site Rating: 6 out of 10 stars

DREAMGIRLS

Dreamgirls was somewhat disappointing in light of the great publicity and buzz it received. I now struggle to understand why. Talk about good marketing and hype...

Jennifer Hudson

Jennifer Hudson did a great job in the film as Effie, the strong willed singer that was misused and held down by Jamie Fox's character, who is head of the film's main record label.

Hudson did a great remake of Jennifer Holiday's classic "And I Am Telling You," which was almost as good as the original. Let's face it, vocally it is hard for most of the population to out-sing Holiday, who has a superb voice. Still, Hudson did a great job and came close.

She deserves an Oscar for her performance as best supporting actress. It's odd, she is listed as "supporting actress" for her award nominations, but by far, was the star of this show. No disrespect intended to the other actors, but Hudson carried the film, turning in a stunning, believable performance.  

When she sang the lyrics, "And I am telling you. I'm not going," I believed her. I was like, girlfriend isn't going anywhere. 

Eddie Murphy

One of the most gripping scenes in the film comes when Fox's character, the head of Murphy's character's record label, tells him his new socially conscious song just won't sell and he must stick to formulaic pop music, which devastates him, after all the hard work he did.

Funny enough, this happens a lot in the entertainment industry at the hands of soulless, bean counter  executives.

LOL @ Eddie's shoes

The funniest scene in the film comes courtesy of Murphy's character's meltdown, which is quite fitting since Eddie is one of the funniest comedic actors in history, and with range. And boy did he meltdown.

Struggling with drug dependency and lack of creativity in his music career, Murphy's character flips out, on stage, singing an ill-conceived, out of place song that is rhythmically funny. However, his pelvic thrusts and pants dropping antics, were not. This enraged his label head.

Spoiler Alert: Later, sadly, Murphy's character meets the fate many musicians do. 

Jamie Fox

Jamie Fox turned in a decent performance as the aforementioned controlling label svengali, based on real life Motown founder, Berry Gordy, directing the careers of the semi-fictional Dreams, which are based on the Supremes. Clearly a rhymed take off of their name.

I can't imagine Gordy is happy with the film's characterization of him, but considering rumors have swirled for decades that the label was started with mob money, that's the least of his worries. Motown, did however manage to turn in an unprecedented run of hits, the likes of which have not been seen since.

Oddly enough, there were moments in the film while Fox was on screen that forced to mind Tommy Mottola, singer Mariah Carey's ex-husband and former head of Sony Music, more than Berry Gordy. It is especially noticeable in the scene with Fox's character and Knowles' having a heated argument over her wanting to take certain film roles he didn't want her to.

While label svengalis heavily reward their musical creations they date or marry, with #1's and certified CDs, taking them to heights of fame most don't reach, because the label boss utilizes disproportionate amounts of label resources in accomplishing this goal, that would share for 10 artists, said artists lose their identity and freedom in exchange, becoming puppets. 

Beyonce Knowles

Knowles delivered a weak performance. At times she did look like Diana Ross, who her character is based on, but her performance was still light. USA Today called her performance:

"The weakest link is the stunning Knowles. The camera clearly loves her, and her singing is not in contention, but as an actress, she has a vapid quality. Despite the array of dazzling fashion ensembles, and the effort to channel Diana Ross, her performance remains one-note, particularly in contrast to Hudson's nuanced portrayal."

And she was indeed the weakest link, especially having to sing "Listen" after Hudson had already turned in a stellar rendition of "And I Am Telling You."

To add to the controversy, the frequently sued, copyright infringing Knowles' name was dropped from the Oscar ballot for the song "Listen" on a technicality that there can only be three writers listed for the nomination.

Knowles is famous for taking credit for songs she didn't fully write or write at all, so one has to wonder if that is what transpired here. For further reference see songs Crazy in Love, Independent Women, Baby Boy, Survivor and Irreplaceable, to name a few.

It's weird how history repeats itself, as similar events to that which occurred in the film happened as well with the booting of members of Knowles' real life former band, Destiny's Child, that was also accompanied by spotlight hogging.

In a Sound Off Column a few years ago, I wrote about both the Supremes and Destiny's Child in this context, as I've noticed the sad parallels between the two, for a long time.

Let's hope none of the members of Destiny's Child meet the same untimely end as former Supreme, Flo Ballard. People don't care when they destroy people's careers, but they need to remember Flo Ballard as a warning of what can happen, and as the phrase goes, God doesn't like ugly.

In Closing

Both Hudson and Murphy won awards for their performances and deservingly so. They were by far, the highlight of the film. Unfortunately, this film did not meet all the buzz that accompanied it. It was at best average, but with a few good performances.

The costumes were nice, and so were the sets, but the storyline failed, however true it maybe. The dirty practices highlighted in this film are only a sampling of the unethical things wicked people in the entertainment industry get up to, only for history to record them in a bad light later for having done so.


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