"Dreamgirls" could hold the title for the most overrated film of the year, generating more four star reviews than almost anything else. It was said to be a great big spectacle, and one of the most satisfying of the year, but in the end, the number of times I rolled my eyes exceeded the number of times that I smiled, and I was somewhat grateful when it was over. "Dreamgirls" is an obvious Oscar contender, but it sadly doesn't deserve it. Even if I thought it was a decent picture, it still wouldn't scream Oscar. In the end it's just another movie musical, and not even one worth watching. With three big names on the bill and only one good performance(from an unknown, until now), this is a sad and sorry disappointment. It's a musical without any worthy toe-tapping, and a story with no soul or heart, because the casting choices are wrong-all wrong.
"Dreamgirls" is a companion to the past play of the same name. We open at a Detriot talent competition where three girls-Deena Jones, Lorrell Robinson, and Effie Melody White-have all been singing together since they were twelve years old. They have their act to perfection, and everybody has their special talent-especially when Effie sings. When Effie sings, everyone's heart melts. When the three do their act, they are discovered by Curtis Taylor Jr, who pays the club owner a nice amount of money to ensure that the girls don't win. He has a hidden agenda, planning on giving the girls a bit of a break, and have them sing backup to James 'Thunder' Early, a singing heartthrob. Some of the girls are a little apprehensive at being demoted to backup singer, but in the end they all agree that it could be their big break. The girls finally achieve a bit of success, until Curtis changes things around. Curtis and Effie have started a bit of a thing, and so has Lorrell and James-even though Lorrell knows that Jimmy is married. Curtis seems to have his eye on Deena a bit, who is classical classified by him as the beauty in the group-which is why he switches the role of Deena and the role of Effie. Deena becomes the lead singer and Effie is resorted to the back, something that she despises. Eventually she gets kicked out of the group, loses her man, gets pregnant, and sits back as she is easily replaced. She watches along with millions of others as Deena Jones rises in the hearts of the many, and then slowly falls to nothing.
"Dreamgirls" is the vehicle that Beyonce Knowles is apparently trying to use to get her to the big names of actresses. I have a feeling that while reading the script she was already planning out her acceptance speech, which is why she is obviously trying too hard. From the second she walks on screen with her short hair and her "good girl" outfit, she was attempting something that she can never get-any type of seriousness as an actress. She really isn't good, and this could have been played by someone better. Because in the end Beyonce is given the old "in an out" treatment by Jennifer Hudson's Effie, who came out of nowhere and can act better, sing better, and even have better stage presence than Beyond Knowles can ever, and will ever, have. The best scene in the whole movie was smack in the middle, right before what I assumed was an intermission in the original play, where Effie is officially kicked out of the group, and sings a ballad to Curtis about never living without him. For one brief moment I was actually interested in the film, and she managed to suck me in her with voice and talent! The thing is, while Beyonce is trying way to hard to be memorable, Hudson seems to be being herself, and that is why she is so effective.
When it comes to the rest of the cast, is it just me or is everybody else sick of Jamie Foxx too? I can't see any diversity with anything Foxx plays, and even in a trailer for an upcoming Foxx film he always has the same expression-you know the one, where he narrows his eyes and looks at you with all seriousness. Foxx got somewhat lucky with "Ray," and even somewhat in "Collateral," but ever since then he hasn't impressed me at all. He can't hide behind Ray Charles' shadow anymore. Eddie Murphey is a sort of a saving grace, and is much better here accepting a somewhat serious role after masterpieces like "Daddy Day Care," and "The Haunted Mansion." With a third "Shrek" on its way, its good to know that he isn't hiding between the donkey's shadow. And it was fun to see people like John Lithgow in a bit part, but it was far too short to savor it.
Writer/director Bill Condon, whose previous film was the brillant "Kinsey," disappointed me with this one. I've come not to expect much from movie musicals, but this one didn't even make me interested more than once. And the story is so obvious that it even failed from being the slightest bit fun. And then towards the end they try to get a little insightful with topics about race, and the role of African Americans in the theatre/music business, but by then I didn't even care. But it'll be nominated, it'll probably take the Best Picture from "Little Miss Sunshine" in the Golden Globe for Best Picture Comedy, and it'll be slowly forgotten in a few years. And look at films in the past like this-is "Chicago" really that beloved over time? Has "Walk the Line" been a timeless smash hit that is still talked about today? No, not really. But at least "Chicago" and "Walk the Line" were entertaining. "Dreamgirls" didn't even have that going for it.