Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Dream Girls Will Never Leave You...

Like many people, my problem with the movie-musical genre is the suspension of disbelief required to accept that characters who are in the middle of dialouging suddenly burst into singing and dancing. It's different on stage in some way that I can't quite put my finger on. Everything on Broadway is a musical, so maybe it's just more expected. Unlike my other favorite musical--Evita--there is actual dialouge and action that is not singing and dancing. (There is only one line in Evita that is not sung, and that is when Augustin Magaldi says, "Neither has yours" to Eva's (Madonna's) sung line, "Your act hasn't changed much.")

That said, Dreamgirls was really good. It reminded me in some ways of What's Love Got to Do with It?, though the latter cannot properly be called a musical because all the singing and dancing that takes place is during performances the characters are giving an audience of extras (performing, in the recording studio, etc). What's similar though is the black cast that goes from rags to riches in the 60's and 70's, and the bastard children, husband stealing, betrayal and mo' money mo' problems themes that run throughout. However, there is no wife beating in Dreamgirls -- but I still see it as an I, Tina moment in time, and James "Thunder" Early (Eddie Murphy) is as Ike-Turner as he wants to be.

Jennifer Hudson is well deserved of the praise she's been getting for her role as Effie, and by losing "American Idol" but going on to have an Oscar buzz and a Golden Globes nomination, she has achieved the reverse double-cup of the year. Take that Simon Cowell! What's interesting, however, is how every time she is mentioned it's as a "supporting actress" in the film, when she is in fact (arguably) the central character. I didn't have my timer on me, but I think she might even have more screen time than Beyonce. But the Big Names are the ones that are on the billboards and promotional material: Beyonce, Jamie Foxx, and Eddie.

Beyonce is great, too, and I'm in love with her song "Listen", that she wrote for the movie. I do wonder how she felt that continuously through the movie other characters note her lack of singing ability. In real life she can of coure sing very well (and despite the movie's premise that she can't sing, she of course sings great in the film).

The idea is that CeCe (Jamie Foxx) puts the power behind her voice through promotion and production. She's the pretty one, though, so she rises to be the lead of the group, while the big-boned Effie sinks into the background, which drives her crazy, her ultimate demise.

The movie is happy and sad, upbeat and downbeat, and very entertaining. The Butch Stroll gives three and a half out of four stars. As stated here, though, the original is the best:


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