Home > Drama >


Dreamgirls (2006)

December. 25,2006
| Drama Music

A trio of female soul singers cross over to the pop charts in the early 1960s, facing their own personal struggles along the way.


Watch Trailer


Similar titles



Set as it is in the Motown era of the Sixties, it's not hard to draw a comparison between the Dreamgirls of the title and the hit-making Supremes, along with a character like Jimmy Early, who seems to be a composite performer based on Little Richard, James Brown, and Smokey Robinson. But with Eddie Murphy in the role, a bit too much of Eddie Murphy's personality comes through, almost as if he's doing a parody on Saturday Night Live. There's also a late film addition of a Jackson Five knock-off. But with all the Motown elements, it didn't feel like a story set in the era, but one designed for the year in which it was made.All of that is not necessarily a bad thing. As movie musicals go, this one was entertaining enough for this viewer, even if I'm not a fan of the genre myself. What I found particularly interesting were the scene transitions, like when Effie White (Jennifer Hudson) auditioned for Max Washington (Ken Washington) in a small room, and the setting changed to a night club performance in front of an attentive crowd. There were a few scenes like that, that were nicely done.Of course, all the singers were quite good, but when the stage dynamic switched to the actors and actresses singing to each other, both the song lyrics and situations seemed awkward at times. I guess the biggest surprise for me was hearing what a powerful voice Jennifer Hudson has. Since my personal Golden Age of music occurred during The Sixties with the British Invasion, The Surf Sound, and of course Motown, I'm not as in tune to current singers like Hudson and Beyoncé. As entertaining as they are, their musical style is just not my favorite type of listening pleasure.But overall, if you like movie musicals, this one ought to satisfy. At just over two hours, I never got an antsy feeling while watching, so for me, that's saying something. Visually it's also a great experience, as the costuming and stage presentations are quite colorful. The dynamic among the characters is also compelling enough to keep one's attention, right up until the final curtain.


This is more than a musical and less than an opera. Since most—that is a HUGE part—of it is related through music rather than dialogue, I don't know what category to place it in. Perhaps that fact alone is what makes me feel ambivalent about it. So, let's just call it a new sub-genre of musically related story telling..It basically relates the story of Motown from the early 60s through the mid-70s (with a slight bit on the disco craze of that period). When I stop to think of it, the story of Motown is not only important to America's Musical and Performing Arts history, it is also highly entertaining in this format.The story is told through several interacting sub-stories with at least three great male stars: Jamie Foxx, Eddie Murphy, and Danny Glover. Foxx plays the heavy as he lures in talented young girls and then controls their careers and their lives by making them perform his way--in his media and venue, and with his choice of songs. Further, he can not only make them stars but he can break them too. While Foxx plays the heavy (Satan figure), Danny Glover plays the old-man-with-a-big-heart role (the angel figure). Glover's character helps them start their careers; picks them up when they are down; and tries to get them together or make a comeback. Finally, Eddie Murphy plays the role of the Jester. He is a lovable fool who doesn't seem to know his talent or its limitations. He also doesn't know himself too well either. The four 'Dreamgirls' all have different stories in the movie. Although I am not familiar with them as actresses, they are all great singers. Of course, all eyes this year are on newcomer, Jenifer Hudson, for her role as Effie White. Still, Beyoncé Knowles, Anika Noni Rose, and Sharon Leal are great as the other three dreamgirls.


The Supremes deserve a lot better.Dreamgirls is largely based on the story of The Supremes, the ground-breaking Motown group. However, the movie does them no justice. All the music in the movie was written especially for the movie. So you don't have any recognisable 60s songs. Plus, the songs are quite dull and don't really capture the sound of the 60s or of Motown.Throw in a rather linear script and unimaginative direction and the movie is nothing special. Plus, in a movie filled with musical performances, the director has random music-instead-of-acting scenes, like in a musical. It just seemed like overkill and totally unnecessary.Decent performances though. Eddie Murphy got a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination and Jennifer Hudson won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress. Not sure she deserved it though - she was good, but not THAT good. Then again, there wasn't much competition in that category in 2007.


You've got "One Time Only" to turn a hit Broadway show into a great movie musical, and in the case of "Dreamgirls", they managed to avoid it going down the path of "Man of LaMancha", "Mame", "A Little Night Music", "A Chorus Line", "The Phantom of the Opera" and "Nine" for hit shows that ended up becoming missed opportunities. All is well in the world of the "Dreams", the fictional version of the Supremes who won the hearts of musical theater fans back in the early 1980's and made a huge star out of Jennifer Holliday who belted "And I Am Telling You" right out of the Imperial Theater.The Holliday has switched to the Hudson for the role of Effie White, the power-house singer based upon the real life Florence Ballard. While Jennifer Holliday won a Tony Award, Jennifer Hudson went home with the Oscar, and in tribute to both ladies, they would later perform the big Effie number later together. Ms. Holliday continues to play this role in various theaters around the country, while Hudson's status as a star once rejected by Simon Cowell proves that what "Simon Says" doesn't always ring true.For a "fictional" biography of the Supremes, you have to have a great Deena Jones, the glamorous representation of Diana Ross. Unlike the real "Miss Ross", Deena Jones is presented as somebody who might have stardom within her reach, but her "diva" presence isn't as strong as her real-life counterpart. She is certainly more down-to-earth and seemingly sweeter, not to cast a shadow on Diana Ross's character. She just comes off as somebody much more approachable than the real legend. The current day top diva of the pop world, Beyonce, brings a very likable quality to Deena, absolutely sympathetic to Effie's situation and more than compassionate when she learns the truth about what transpired between her and Curtis (the magnificent Jamie Fox). Rising Broadway star Anika Noni Rose is fantastic as Lorrell, the third of the original "Dreams", but her role isn't as well developed as Effie and Deena, although it is clear that her character is based on Mary Wilson.Giving one of his all-time showiest performance, Eddie Murphy is phenomenal as James "Thunder" Early, and watching his breakdown is as heartbreaking as the real-life destructions of various great artists who became legends way before their time should have been up. Danny Glover is "Earth Father" as the older adviser, and Keith Robinson shows much vulnerability as Effie's brother who is torn between a rock and a hard place when it comes to choosing between his own ideals and his love for his sister.One of the reasons that the original Supremes are so important in music history is that they helped integrate the world of pop music. White audiences took them to their hearts, and that is certainly obvious in how the "Dreams" are portrayed. The obvious comparisons between the fact and fiction is very present with a young boy obviously playing Michael Jackson, and if you see the Broadway musical "Motown", you will see why some critics called that show basically a re-tread of "Dreamgirls", only with the real names attached. The racial tensions which lead to riots in the 1960's in Detroit where Motown was located and where this partially takes place are covered in both stories, so it doesn't matter if you're listening to "Stop in the Name of Love" or "One Night Only", the importance of the political and social story is equally as important.Original Broadway "Dreamgirl" Loretta Devine makes a nice impression in a small role, and several other Broadway favorites turn up in smaller parts. While "Dreamgirls" has not returned to Broadway since the late 1980's, a recent tour did stop in New York, ironically at the Apollo, where part of this also takes place. The fast-moving and engrossing drama, surrounded by a fantastic score, will keep you riveted. When Jennifer Hudson sings her song of atonement, "I am Changing", you may find yourself in tears, and when Beyonce sings the original "Listen" (written for the movie, included in the most recent tour), you may be standing up cheering as well. Bravo, Hollywood, for turning our "Dreamgirls" into a movie musical dream come true.