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Daniel

???!!! Um, hello...You're right. Don't apologise. So you got fired up...So did a lot of us.

Tanith

xnowhereboyx--
Come back!

Superben

It's my first comment on your superblog, but after a stellar review like that I had to chime in.

I too left Dreamgirls feeling worn-out, unfulfilled, and irritated. As a musical theater major in college, I studied the artform as just that - an ART FORM. Also, I was afforded the opportunity to see a widely respected stage revival of Dreamgirls in Philadelphia. I agree wholeheartedly with many of your assertions about the misdirection and misrepresentation of the film. Perhaps most egregiously, I think, is the franchise's hypocritical handling of its own publicity: the notion that Hudson is being promoted for supporting nominations while Beyonce is pushed for leading is absolutely ludicrous. It's Effie's story! It's as though the producers of Dreamgirls...didn't see Dreamgirls! In my own opinion, I didn't think any of the actors nominated for Golden Globes really deserved that kind of recognition. While "And I Am Telling You" brings down the house, I feel Hudson can't act until she is singing.

My other beef is the blatant ignoring of Lorelle, the third Dreamette, played WONDERFULLY by Anika Noni Rose (a Tony-award winning actress). Her big Act 2 tour de force ("Ain't No Party") when she breaks up with Jimmy was cut, surely because the actress isn't a big enough name.

I think the songs grated after a while because they cut almost all the songs in the score that came from a dramatic place, opting instead for a countless series of montages that begin with a recording session and then pan out to cover lots of narrative ground without developed scenes.

Anyway, this is your blog, not mine. I wanted to let you know that I agree (and that this was a very impressive review). All the best!! :)

-Ben

Jabes

And now for something completely different, since I haven't seen the movie: "Seriously, think about it: would you rather be trapped in an elevator with investment bankers or aspiring actors? At least the bankers will leave you the fuck alone." Being aquainted with both investment bankers and aspiring actors as I am, this made me laugh out loud. Thanks Rich.

plain

Me thinks you better stick to Project Runway.

Like many, I wonder why you consider perceived limitations with the book and score of Dreamgirls as legitimate criticism of the film version.

Criticism of the score is absurd. A Broadway musical, its songs, its book is brought to the screen in a brilliant and cinemaatic way.

It is like slamming the film version Sound of Music cornball (which of course it is) because "Climb Every Mountain" is a cheesy, over the top song sung by a nun.

And yes, it is a racial thing. Or, maybe like the Donald's continued assault on Rosie. A pathetic attempt at self promotion.

Doom

It's just plain stupid to criticize the music for the movie, just really dumb. The music is NOT Motown, it's Motown interpreted for the Broadway stage. They're not gonna be up there singing fucking Baby Love. It's theatrical and big and you wanted them to stop singing in a musical? Why even bother going?!

I mean, seriously criticizing Bill Condon for staying true to the source material? Are you for real?

pissy elliott

"Criticism of the score is absurd. A Broadway musical, its songs, its book is brought to the screen in a brilliant and cinemaatic way."

"I mean, seriously criticizing Bill Condon for staying true to the source material? Are you for real?"

can't speak for rich, but -- if the songs aren't good, the songs aren't good. i'm a big show queen, and these songs bore me to TEARS. great adaptations often come from great mistranslations and perversions of the "source" -- please see "adaptation," "secretary," or in musical land, "kiss me kate." it's not an inalienable right of the universe for "dreamgirls" to exist on screen. it needs to work.

Diva Delux

Rich i love you!

i totally agree 100%

i was bored out of my skull the entire time. truthfully i was not expecting much (fact: Beyonce cannot act) but i thought, hey i love musicals and who knows, it might not suck. wrong.

there are so many things wrong with this movie, and just thinking about it makes me mad and makes me want a refund.


i did laugh twice though.

once during John Lithgow's cameo because that man is hilarious in everything and it reminded me of how amazing he was in The Sweet Smell of Success

and then again during the discofied version of One Night Only. Beyonce + bedazzled body suit + insane wig + gay male backup dancers = sheer camp = fabulous!!!

who knew they had gay club mixes in the 70's!

plain

If you can't speak for Rich, don't. I do wonder if a big show queen has ever seen the show. Michael Bennet was brilliant and the staging extremly innovative, yet he had Jennifer Holliday stomping on stage for over 8 minutes at the end of the first act. Bill Condon adapted the score but made it palatable and yes cinematic.

How anyone can sit through an astounding film debut of another Jennifer and over 40 wig changes and be bored out of their minds leaves me bewildered.

pissy elliott

Plain: I'ma just sit up in this chair and respect you. I fail to see why you are taking this into the realm of internet flaming (insert your own gay pun here). I have seen both the Big Broadway version of Dreamgirls, and a considerably more impressive low-budget community theatre version. The songs are boring. 40 wig changes does not magic make.

BusterBrown

Jennifer Hudson's performance was barely a notch up from being horrible in my opinion. She's just sassy whenever she's not singing and frankly Ashanti did sassy better than her in that fucking Muppets in Oz tv movie. That's...not...good.

Honey

I'm disappointed in your post Rich. I think Dreamgirls coming to the silver screen is a great thing. I'm glad to see an African American movie that has a big budget and a great cast. The play helped revitalize Broadway back in 1981. I'm sorry you didn't like the story, but if you read Mary Wilson's book "Dreamgirls" it's very dead on.

angela

I love your reviews Rich, and this one I am sure is spot on but I will still go. I mean, I own a copy of A Chorus Line (and other actually good musicals). Plus, I was fifteen when I saw Dreamgirls the week it opened on Broadway. It blew my mind, well, La Holliday blew my mind and so the movie I will see.

How cute is Jennifer Hudson?

theidlereceptionist

I haven't been exited about Dreamgirls at all and don't plan on seeing it, although I enjoy your perspective on things so much that I had to read your review.


HOWEVER: when I scrolled back up and noticed your Adventures in Babysitting banner I almost fell out of my chair. My most favorite fourfour banner yet!!

Karen

Hi everybody! Wow, some lively debate going on here.

I waited to read the review here until I had seen "Dreamgirls". I didn't want anything 'spoiled' (apparently I'm one of five persons on the planet who has not seen the stage show or knows someone who has), plus, I thought I'd be better off conversing about it if I'd actually seen it. Yes, I'm one of those who has trouble sitting on their hands if something they read, sparks something to natter onto their keyboard about! (Even if uninformed. Ha. See, I admit it!)

The movie was fine - what I expected it to be. Some social commentary thrown in, fantabulagorgeous costumes, a bit of a trite script, lots of singing. Predictable ending. It actually felt like it was a bit long, as my leg fell asleep. But I'll also type that hubby and I felt entertained and did not feel we'd wasted the ticket price or the time. That in itself is unusual for movies in recent years.

I felt very sad watching some of it (okay, if some of you wish a reason the film affected me...maybe I'm an easy mark. I like Lifetime Tv movies too, although partly because they know they're bad). All of the characters had to scramble hard to 'make it'. At some point almost all of them betrayed someone close to them or even themselves or their integrity (Effie may have been the only exception, unless you count her pride, and not telling her daughter who her father was - or saying 'she has no daddy' within the little girl's earshot). But it seemed things were stacked against them.

Sure, the film just dropped in cultural references (Martin Luther King Jr, a female audience member with an Angela Davis-like fro and a 'power salute', mob-run music business, payola, endemic racism i.e. the comedian's "they'll mop up later" 'joke' while the Dreamettes stood on stage). But it wasn't supposed to be a polemic. Those things did give some context, for a viewer who was ready to fill in the rest, to the characters' ambition and choices.

The major downside for me, and hubby agreed and said he was going to say this too when I brought it up - was Jamie Fox's performance. The man laid an egg. Did he figure out he was playing an unsympathetic character, and think "If I just stand really still and don't blink, no one will see me"? He was in nearly every scene and at the end, I had no idea who he was. I had only other characters' comments to go by. When Danny Glover called Jamie a snake for the first time, if it was supposed to be true (as later we find out), I shouldn't have wondered where that 'came from' or felt a bit sorry for Jamie. After all he was only scrabbling for a buck, the same as Danny; and trying to manage talent to get out of poverty. Same as Danny. And agents or managers steal each others' clients all the time.

Of course, by the time he's destroyed people and careers and effectively starved his own child, he's a snake. Too late, though. I heard about that trip, I didn't go on it with the movie.

Jennifer Hudson's big showstopping tune: I agree with someone else here who said there was no motivation for her groveling. Jamie's snake oil salesman is the 'best man' she ever knew? She's gonna humiliate herself begging him to keep her on? I have to point out here that all these years when I heard about that song, I assumed it was in response to being fired, and the artist's wish for validation. It's about a man? Pshaw.

Also, Jamie was expressionless during that scene as well. Hello - dramatic pinnacle. Nothing. Going. On. Though. They should've had her tearing at and clawing at him while he kicked her away. Seriously. THEN I'd know he's a snake and not just a manager reacting reasonably to a performer going AWOL for days right before a gig. Maybe. But it would've at least made the scene more dramatic. That scene should've been the payoff of tension and drama, and could've shown where and when Jamie turned against her.

I also think there should've been at least a MOMENT when Jamie's character showed his fear of abandonment (the only possible motivation I could think of aside from his being a sociopath, which would've been too heavy for a musical) and how he'd sweated out those two/three days she vanished, until he steeled himself against her. THAT MOMENT when he shut down all empathy for her should've been shown to us. In other words, the big dramatic climax is MISSING.

I thought Beyonce was fine - she portrayed Deena as tough in her own way but afraid to stand up for herself. I can imagine a man like Jamie's character-whatever-his-name-was dominating most any other person. Seemed a hint about abuse in there, so I can take the leap there and believe Deena never knew about his burying Effie's song. Also, she was obviously only a figurehead to Jamie, not a real person he loved.

Jimmy Early - I liked Eddie Murphy in the movie; obviously this was James Brown. But I also thought about all the doo wop artists etc., who ended up dying young. I wouldn't say I cried during this movie, but seeing him stifled at every turn until he basically killed himself, made me very sad. That's why I had to try to make up some backstory for Jamie's character - what would make someone want to control others to the point they destroy them?

In the end though, this is a movie to watch flash by you and to keep you dazzled for a couple of hours. It doesn't bear overly close scrutiny (most musicals don't). And the audience in L.A. - white, black, brown, didn't pay a lot of attention as we went in during previews but just who I half-noticed, walking in there) were all cheering and applauding, though I can't tell for sure who, as we sat 2nd row.

I'd like to point out though that if someone was against a movie with a black cast, why would they be there in the first place? Some people are just more reserved, but I don't think it's because they didn't like seeing black actors up on screen. Personally I don't care, just so the movie keeps me entertained. Some might say a slinky could do the same for me. Maybe so. :-) But maybe this movie only disappoints if expecting too much from what's essentially a Hollywood formula musical.

Libressa

I agree with you aboutthe movie Karen. It's just a movie. To me it's a good movie because I had fun watching it. I had fun because I didn't expect much; also I wanted to see Jennifer Hudson overshadow the over hyped Beyonce. It was fun. Who cares about the acting and plot? I enjoyed the scenery, the music, the fact that Beyonce looked "special" without makeup, and I thought Eddie Murphy was really good. Sometimes it's OK to like something that's simply OK. These days, most people approach entertainment like a drug addict approaches their drug. They expect the perfect high and get devastatewd when they don't get it.
There was some fun stuff in this movie, for those that know how to lighten up. I saw the play and didn't find it to be groundbreaking or cerebral, but I had fun and allowed myself to play along.

Also, I loved the fact that Jennifer Hudson finally got her big break and made Beyonce's parent's sweat. The gossip around the movie was one of the big reasons I wanted to see the movie. I Jeffifer hadn't been in it I wouldn't have bothered. I never expected or required her to be a groundbreaking actress. I'm just glad she got in a movie; I loved her on American Idol and felt she was cheated. I love American Idol and I don't feel ashamed. It's just a TV show. I'm 44 and beyond worrying about making cool and hip entertainment choices to make my friends like me.

On her showstopping song, I thought she did good, not great. I felt her other songs translated better. I also felt that she wasn't singing to or about her man as much as her wanting her man, her brother, and former group to value her.

To me, Dreamgirls was a good movie. though I loved Rich's review! I love Four Four!

Paddy

I checked my brain at the door when I went to see it (and therefore loved it unequivocally), so great to hear from someone who hung on to his during the ride. Well written, Rich. Well done.

Derrick

I loved the movie. I saw it 3 times. But I went into it with significantly lower expectations. The movie, in my opinion, is made in the mold of Beyonce's character/performance. It's a mechanization, lacking any signs of humanity or emotion whatsoever, brimming with bells and whistles with the sole purpose of giving the audience a visual orgasm.

I believe that's one of the reasons Beyonce was chosen for this role. The casting agents did their homework and Netflix'd her past movies. Beyonce's acting sucked, but she was a joy to look at. Especially when dolled up and doing her best Diana impressions.

J.Hud was good. She lived and breathed Effie. I think she deserves the accolades. She even saves the second part of the film, which is almost excruciatingly bad.

I agree the end made no sense. At that point, the music numbers were enough to make my ears bleed. The worst part about it all, though, is that each time I left the theater I couldn't figure out what "the point" was of the movie I'd just seen. Are the filmmakers criticising the industry? Dissecting how and why we dream? What is the commentary?

The real surprise of this movie isn't J-Hud, it's Anika Noni Rose. If you listen carefully, you hear her most in the background of all the songs and she provides the movie's only (welcomed) bit of humor.

Ryan

Okay, Hudson can sing, but she sure couldn't act her way out of a paper bag. For her to win the Golden Globe last night cause me to lose faith in the industry. Give her an award for singing, but not for acting. She has no place in the film industry.

There was too much hype and now I can't turn a corner without Dreamgirls getting priase. Did I miss something?

Yep, Ryan, I think you did.

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