Movie Review: Dream Girls

By Moira Sullivan
Movie Magazine International
Dreamgirls opened on Xmas day and it was every much of a brilliant holiday movie. I guess the only complaint I have is it is too slick. In the end credits the teams working on art direction and other technical aspects of the film are showcased with pop up ads, just in time for the "for your consideration" pitches for the Academy Awards. Already Dreamgirls directed by Bill Condon has garnished five Golden Globe nominations And Dreamgirls will have a chance for those Oscar nods. Jennifer Hudson is my choice for best supporting actress if it is. The slickness of Dreamgirls is evident in the editing and the packaging of the story , which it gives the feel of a processed well oiled product. That said, the meat of the film is in the stellar performances of Jennifer Hudson who plays the powerful and saucy Effie Melody White and Eddy Murphy - the energetic and naughty James Thunder Early. I am leaning on these characters whose good luck changed in life and either bounced back or didn't. These are the strong characters of the film. As Bette Davis says, the strong need protection, average people know how to land on their feet. Nothing can be more clear than in how average singers make good, and talented artists wind up pushed to the side because their talent overshadows mediocrity. Their vulnerability exploited or trivialized. Hudson plays the part of a jilted power packed singer who knows she should say no to being a backup singer for James Thunder Early. But the economic benefits and front line opportunities are hard to turn down for her and the other two women in her group. We know that she would have made it anyway, later in the film she goes solo and proves this though the early push helped, and hurt. The film shows how really carnivorous the music business is and how it eats its young, through the unethical purchase of hit songs by African Americans by recording labels to be later performed by Wonderbread middle class white groups. But it is actually the success of these airhead groups that leads manager Curtis Taylor Jr uneventfully played by Jamie Foxx to bounce Effie and puts Deena Jones, played by Beyoncé into the limelight of the group, cut loose from the fading Thunder on a downward spiral into drug abuse. Deena has a prettier face and a less virtuous voice. The story comes from the successful Broadway play by the same name and is based on parts of the career of the Supremes. Beyoncé doesnt turn out to be as cutthroat in screenlife as Dianna Ross, and becomes the lead singer by default. Eddy Murphy plays a singer whose style later on doesnt really work with middle class America. We also are reminded about how Elvis Presley made hits from the efforts of black American musicians. Perhaps all artists steal from one another but Dreamgirls shows how consistent this was in the recording industry for holding back black talent. Probably the most riviting moment in the film is when Effie is set up for the fall and ostracized by manager/lover and co-singers. She belts out a sorrowful heart wrenching "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" that Jennifer Holliday sang and brought down the house on Broadway show after show in the 80's. For anyone who has ever been powerful and strung out for ridicule by the little people who they most love this is a powerful moment and one that is classic to the tales of success and failure.
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Dream Girls