Ladies and gentlemen: Dreamworks Picture Studio proudly presents one of the best musicals to hit the silver screen in the past decade. Better than Ray and better than the 2003 Academy Award winner for Best Picture (Chicago), Dreamgirls is toe-tapping explosive magic with singing so good that chills are sure to result.
Effie White (Jennifer Hudson), Deena Jones (Beyonce Knowles), and Lorrell Robinson (Anita Noni Rose) are The Dreamettes — a trio of female singers striving to make it big in the early 1960s. When they meet Curtis Taylor Jr. (Jamie Foxx), The Dreamettes catch their break and begin singing backup for the legendary James “Thunder” Early (Eddie Murphy). However, once The Dreams (as they are now known) spin off on their own, their options seem limitless. With Effie’s brother C.C. (Keith Robinson) as their songwriter and Curtis as their manager, it is Deena who leads The Dreams in voice and to success — not Effie.
From the time her face appears on screen, it is obvious that Hudson is the star. What is also clear is the striking beauty and sexiness of Beyonce. Sadly, her acting and singing don't stand out on par with Hudson’s, but her hair, eyes, lips, and figure make her a focal point. To round out the three, you will most likely find yourself thinking, “Who is that other girl?” That other girl is Tony Award-winning Broadway star, Anika Noni Rose. Even with her six-inch heels to keep her level with Beyonce and Hudson, Anika merely supports and nothing else.
Some cameos that place the cherry on top of the superb sundae include Jaleel White, John Lithgow, and John Krasinski (Jim from The Office). While the former Urkel is featured as the talent booker early on, Lithgow and Krasinski play a director and screenwriter respectively. They may be bit parts, but seeing their familiar faces alongside the leads enhances the experience.
Considering the film is centered on the rise of the newly-formed set of singers, Dreamgirls is able to transcend the typical feel of your average musical (where the actors suddenly and awkwardly burst into song) with a few minor exceptions. For example, the initial singing of “Family” and the line, “'cause this time Effie White is gonna win,” both feel a little forced. Even so, the elements of reprise work well with the thievery of songs in the music industry; yet, none of the songs are that memorable, excluding “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.”
Despite the average person’s attention span being limited, Dreamgirls succeeds at holding the viewer's attention for its two-hour-plus running time. What makes the production so special are the acting, character development, and spectacle. Despite some labeling Dreamgirls one never-ending production number, the musical is a balanced (not bumpy) ride of voice and emotion. Truly, the motion picture can be summed up in Effie’s daughter’s name — Magic.
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