Tuesday, January 30, 2007

If You Like Dreamgirls...

...then, I can say definitely you'll like Dreamgirls.

That is to say, if you like largely non-narrative, Broadway musicals where spectacle is the point, then Dreamgirls will be your best movie of the year. My review of the film largely parallels with Jan's, with perhaps just slightly less enthusiasm. I enjoyed it for the costumes and the fast-paced editing and, in a lesser way, the music.

Which surprised me. I expected a movie based on the story of Motown and The Supremes to have really amazing music. It really didn't. I felt like the movie kept asking me to believe that the songs were great because there were so many shots of people standing in the wings and sitting in the audience clearly enthralled. But the music wasn't that memorable.

It is quite true that Jennifer Hudson stole the spotlight completely off Beyonce, who will probably be in therapy over it for years to come. Where Hudson's portrayal was full of pain and passion, Beyonce's was almost colorless. It seemed like she was completely overwhelmed by her own beautiful look in the movie. Perhaps she was so consciously not to let this role be "just a vehicle for Beyonce" that she ended up playing nothing at all. I didn't think Eddie Murray was that fabulous. And I agree with Jan that Jamie Foxx was either badly directed in this part or really bored. His journey to Judas lurched around from scene to scene and so, I didn't believe either his attractiveness to Effie, nor his love-song to Dena, nor his commitment to Mammon.

From a story standpoint, I was disappointed that they didn't do more with the whole "How Does Someone Who Sets Out to Elevate His People, End Up Betraying Them?" theme. If the writer and director could have found that theme, this movie would have been much more interesting. As it was, me and my companions were a little bored by mid-point (the guys were VERY bored), and we finally just told each other to sit back and just enjoy the look and sound of the movie.

There isn't anything particularly objectionable in the film. The filmmakers here were clearly keeping this open to as wide an audience as possible.

I didn't find this film as interesting nor as enjoyable as Chicago. Mostly because of the thematic strength of that piece. And because the music was so much better. So, I wouldn't give this one an Oscar in a normal year. This year, where the pickins are so slim, who knows?

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