Movie News, Reviews and More!
dreamgirls Dreamgirls
Directed by:
Bill Condon
Cast: Jamie Foxx. Beyonce' Knowles, Eddie Murphy, Danny Glover, Jennifer Hudson

Written by:
Ricardo Barberini

February 19, 2007

Ever wondered how some movies become such great pictures and I don’t mean just financially?


Dreamgirls was originally written by the late Tom Eyen over twenty years ago.  It was a Broadway musical in the 1980’s.  One of the reasons for its originality is that it was written by someone who had lived through that era while his memory was still fresh.

The story is simple enough.  Three Black girls from Detroit have a dream to become singers.  A used car salesman Curtis Taylor (Jamie Foxx) has visions of becoming a record producer and promoter.  Then there is James (Thunder} Early (Eddie Murphy) a composite character of James Brown, Marvin Gaye and other Black 1960’s R&B performers who has dreams of making it big.

They all join hands.  The first third of the movie is about the struggle that Black artists faced even in the 1960’s; their songs were brazenly stolen by the White performers and they were denied accommodation at first class hotels. 

Curtis has only two assets in the music recording industry.  He has James Early and the three backup girls who call themselves Dreamettes.  To gain a foothold in the industry, Curtis Taylor sells his used car business and invests in heavy advertising and Payola (the practice of paying disc jockeys money to play a song and promote it on the air.) He succeeds and James Early and the Dreamettes manage to break into the White establishments.  Meanwhile, Curtis is having an on-going affair with the lead singer of the backup artists, Effie White, played by Jennifer Hudson.

The girls are so successful that Curtis decide to make them his headliners. He changes their name to Dreams.  In doing so, he designates the less talented but better looking skinnier Deena Jones (Beyoncé Knowles) as the lead singer.  This causes the pregnant Effie to leave the band in disgust without telling anyone that she is expecting Curtis’s child.

The girls go from success to success and so does Curtis who builds a large empire on the back of the Dreams and other artists.  He marries Deena and gradually, the once sensitive decent man is transformed into a ruthless and heartless mercenary.  He even stoops so low as to steal Effie White’s comeback song and has the Dreams perform it without their knowledge that it was Effie’s last chance at becoming a singer again.

James Early's star is descending fast.  He starts taking and injecting drugs and dies of an overdose in his hotel room.

Eventually, Curtis’s wife Deena who is kept under his thumb all those years realizes what a monster he has become and leaves him after handing incriminating evidences of tax evasion, bribery and Payola to Effie and her lawyers.

Effie gets her song back and, we presume, some money.  The Dreams have one last performance which includes Effie.  Curtis finds, too late, that he has a daughter by Effie.  And, that is where it all ends.

The story carries quite a lot of resemblance to life and career of Berry Gordy Jr. who started the Motown label in the very early sixties with a few hundred dollars and built it into several major record labels and production companies.  There are also similarities between the Dreams and the Supremes. 

For example, the Supremes were initially the Primettes.  The founder and the original lead singer of Supremes was Florence Ballard who was dismissed from the band because she was upset by Diana Ross’s promotion to the lead singer role and became depressed and an alcoholic.  Florence, like Effie White, tried to come back as a solo artist but she failed and died in poverty.  Also, there was talk of romantic involvement between Diana Ross and Berry.

What make this movie worthy is the acting, the songs and the music.  We assume that Jennifer Hudson was brought in as a supporting actor/singer to Beyoncé Knowles.  However, she steals the show and the various international awards that this young woman has received prove the point.   She has the voice that can carry across several octaves.  She can act and even though she is somewhat overweight she could be quite pretty.

Eddie Murphy as James Early was really a surprise.  I have always considered him a great comedian.  Here he played the part of a singer who achieves fame beyond his dreams and then when his time passes, he cannot accept the fact that he is facing what most entertainers fear most.  Oblivion.

Jamie Foxx under played the role of an ambitious man who goes from poverty to greatness by climbing over all his friends.  He acting is not over the top which makes his performance believable.

Bill Condon has had a short career in the movies.  He has done some TV specials.   However, this was really a musical drama.  The songs actually carried the movie and the plot, in the background, helped us understand the life and the motivation of each performer.

The musical numbers were mostly fabulous.  This is a movie that should be seen in a theatre.  Your home TV cannot do justice to the musical scenes.  I loved most of the songs and if I had to choose a favorite it would be “One Night Only”, the Disco version performed by the Dreams on stage.  It was grand!  But, you will find a number that you will like.

We will give this movie star starstar 1/2

It is wonderful movie to see for the entire family.  Go and see it in a theatre if you can.  Otherwise rent the DVD.

We would love to hear what you think! Agree? Disagree with this Moviebuff? Send your Review in TODAY!
Click here to send us your review
Or copy and paste into your email browser:
include your review in your email!