If you enjoy musicals, you will enjoy Dreamgirls. Based on the Broadway musical of the same name, it boasts a fine cast of actors and singers. The film is nominated for Best Motion Picture-Comedy or Musical at this year’s Golden Globe Awards. There are other film musicals I liked more overall (Chicago comes to mind), but this film has something Chicago never delivered: a really great singer. You may remember Jennifer Hudson from the 3rd season of American Idol. She didn’t even make it to the top two, but beat out winner Fantasia Barrino for the coveted role of Effie in Dreamgirls. She proves that one need not win the title of American Idol to go on to have a lustrous career.
The story follows the lives and dreams of a Supremes-like girl group. The turbulent 60’s with civil rights front and center, and later the 70’s with the movement toward disco are the backdrop for the action. Beyonce Knowles as Deena Jones, Anika Noni Rose as Lorrell Robinson, and Jennifer Hudson as Effie White, are the three young women with dreams of stardom. Effie’s brother C.C. (Keith Robinson) is a songwriter, and the four meet a manager, Curtis Taylor (Jamie Foxx), and the singer James “Thunder” Early (Eddie Murphy), as they navigate the world of entertainment and recording. Danny Glover and Loretta Devine are also featured.
Eddie Murphy received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance in a Supporting Role. I recalled that he had released a single or album in the 80’s (My Girl Wants to Party All the Time) and his performance on stage is fun to watch. It is puzzling that Beyonce Knowles netted a Golden Globe nomination for Best Performance in a Comedy or Musical, while Jennifer Hudson was relegated to a nomination for Best Performance in a Supporting Role. From the beginning of the film, it is Jennifer as Effie who steals our attention, not Beyonce. It is Effie’s story, and Jennifer is definitely the better singer, and the one who will be remembered. Her voice is extraordinary, and although I hate to compare her with the other queens of soul, she is up there with the ranks of Aretha and Billie.
I overheard someone say they did not wish to see Dreamgirls as it would be depressing. This person went on to say she had heard the film was based on the Supremes, and thus thought it would be a sad ending. I was happy to discover it did not have a sad ending. It doesn’t stick strictly to the Supremes story, and is the better for it. It is in the end, a story of redemption for the good people in the film. I laughed, shed a tear, enjoyed every minute, and left the theatre feeling great.
The film is rated PG-13 for language, some sexuality and drug content. Bill Condon, who had a hand in writing the screenplay for Chicago, directed. Whereas Chicago is for me about the incredible dance numbers, Dreamgirls is all about the music. See it on the big screen.