Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Dreamgirls - Movie Review

So yes, I finally got to see Dreamgirls, the iconic musical now made into a movie. I assume people already know about it so this will be brief, though half my friends I went with didn't even realise it was based on a stage musical, or had ever heard of it. Seriously, who are these people and why am I friends with them again? (Two had never heard of Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle. Seriously. I think I need new friends).

So basically as it seems every reviewer and blogger out there has already noted, Dreamgirls the movie is a good movie but not a great one, and not the saviour of the movie year that we all hoped it would be. Even though it has Oscar written all over the previews, I don't think it should be there, but it was definitely a better adaptation than Rent (which is based on a musical I LOVE) and The Producers (which is based on a musical I didn't love). Still, it's no Moulin Rouge or Chicago.

"...bitch, move out of my spotlight and stop stealing the movie. I'm the famous one and I deserve the Oscar. You lost American Idol for godsakes".

So yes, everything said and hyped about Jennifer Hudson as Effie, the talent behind the singing girls group within the movie who gets booted for beauty Beyonce... er... Deena, is to be believed. She IS the movie and pulls off a remarkable and believably powerful performance. Along with Helen Mirren in The Queen and Forest Whitaker in The Last King of Scotland, you might as well just hand Jennifer Hudson the Oscar now to save us the time since the three pretty much have no competition at this point (and have pretty much sweeped all the critics awards at this point). Remember. I was NOT a JHud fan from American Idol. I liked her more than Fantasia but I didn't love her (though I did think she was booted off a bit too early). Still, she not only has the sass as Effie, and the voice to pull of the song Jennifer Holiday OWNED up to this year, she made me totally forget she was JHud and lived and breathed Effie, even as the single mother in the later years (even though she's pretty young in real life). Still, it boggles my mind that we will probably be hearing Jennifer Hudson as American Idol loser and Oscar Nominee soon enough but she totally deserves it.

Now, Beyonce isn't bad, it's just that she basically plays herself. The surprise standout for me (other than JHud) was Eddie Murphy, who has (almost) redeemed himself for Pluto Nash amongst a few others. Anika Noni Rose also deserves kudos for her underated performance as the OTHER Dreamgirls.

Still, I was actually a little disapointed with the production design of the whole thing (it looked a little... lacking somehow) though it IS John Myhre (who I'm told is a complete imbicile who keeps lucking out with a great Art Department team) and keeps getting Oscar nominations because he gets movies that are BUILT to get nominations (no matter who got the job... see Chicago or Memoirs of a Geisha).

I still have the song "Dreamgirls" running through my head but probably more from the thousands of times I've played the Original Cast Recording, but I would watch this version again solely for the JHud Effie portions again (but fast forward all the others). Nice to see Loretta Devine from the original cast (as well as Crash, Boston Public, Grey's Anatomy) get a little cameo and song, but it would have been cool if Jennifer Holiday (who apparently wasn't even invited to the premiere) and Sheryl Lee Ralph (Moesha, ER) made an appearance too. (Sheryl Lee Ralph who seemed to be the constant professional, even when she did a cheap Canadian made TV pilot here, was totally nice but even MORE sweet when I asked her about her Dreamgirls days. I think she was shocked that in a cast and crew of mostly Blacks, it was the non-Black person that knew about her from that (or at least the only one to mention it to her), and I always got a special wink or nod from the set after that. So funny).

In the meantime, this Dreamgirls gets a 7.5/10 or a B.

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