2014-10-24 18:31 KST  
  RSS
Global Voices Online - The world is talking. Are you listening?
JapanFocus
These 'Dreamgirls' Are Out of Tune
Star studded musical doesn't deliver on character
Brian Orndorf (briano)     Email Article  Print Article 
Published 2006-12-14 23:48 (KST)   
As a struggling girl group in the early 1960s, The Dreams, Deena (Beyonce Knowles), lead singer Effie (Jennifer Hudson), and Lorell (Ankia Noni Rose), find their big break when offered a chance from manager Curtis Taylor (Jamie Foxx) to sing backup for superstar James "Thunder" Early (Eddie Murphy).

When their fame eclipses Early's and the girls are set for a breakthrough, Taylor makes glamorous Deena the new lead and pushes the heavier Effie to the background. Over the next two decades, the rise and fall of The Dreams is chronicled through betrayal, heartache, and redemption as the women fight for their individuality and success.

  TODAY'S TOP STORIES
OMNI's New Approach to Citizen Journalism
[Opinion] Democracy's Downfall
Technology Can Save Money, Planet
[Opinion] Iran Defends Peaceful 'Right'
Couchsurfing in Gaza
  FROM THE SECTION
Blissfully Yours
An Education
[Opinion Essay] J셙ccuse!
The Blind Side
Last Train Home
"Dreamgirls" is a supernova musical that demands nothing less than to be adored. This new film adaptation of the 1981 Broadway blockbuster certainly has the demand part right, but lacks a sufficient argument why it should be venerated. The big screen version is a deafening muddle, pulled apart by booming vocal power, and melodramatic performances. It zips through time faster than Doc Brown's De Lorean.

It seems sacrilege to even consider frowning during this motion picture, but writer/director Bill Condon makes it easy to lose the faith. Somewhere in his translation he's lost the heart and soul of "Dreamgirls," placing emphasis instead on the robotic machinations of the plot rather than the wounded emotions and double-crossing that defined its sinful pleasures on the stage.

Perhaps Condon was too wrapped up in the technicality of it all. Perfectly executed production values and great effort bring out the splendor of the musical numbers; "Dreamgirls" could never be criticized for skimping on details. It's a candied, lovely recreation of the Motown era, with Condon pulling out all the glittery stops to amp up the pageantry of the music and the stage dynamism from the performers. Especially in the first hour, "Dreamgirls" is a tech marvel: cameras swoop in and out, and colors pop off the screen and dance in front of your eyes.

However, Condon is less confident trying to communicate the passage of time; I'm sure "Dreamgirls" was never meant to accurately reflect the trials and tribulations of The Supremes and their disastrous history, but the material surely reaches for an epic take on the rise and fall of Motown's dominance.

That's a lot of backstory and character relationships to sort through, and after some time spent putting the puzzle pieces together, Condon gets impatient, and begins to glide through important stops in every character's journey. Effie goes from a star to a welfare mother in an alarmingly short amount of time, bested only by Early's quickie descent into drug abuse. There are little gaps like that all over the screenplay, building toward a gaping hole of character comprehension by the end of the film. Condon nervously fixes this problem by pumping even more glitter in front of the camera.

Even if the audience couldn't care less about the personal lives of these cardboard personalities, the acting more than jolts the movie when it needs it. To see Eddie Murphy in a role that doesn't require total humiliation is a mind-altering experience. As the James Brown/Jackie Wilson hybrid Early, Murphy is a pure delight, effortlessly delivering his own vocals and perfecting the on-stage strut of a black artist in the 1960s. Early's scenes are the film's highlights.

©2006 Paramount Pictures

The same could be said of newcomer Jennifer Hudson, who simply blows her fellow Dreams away with this, her first foray into feature film acting. Blessed with a voice that could rotate the planet, Hudson gives a tremendous reading of Effie's musical obstruction, leading to a bombastic performance of "And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going," which is the film's singular moment of usable musical catharsis. Hudson blows away Knowles and Rose with her unnervingly confident stage performance, and doesn't embarrass herself in the least away from the microphone. If anyone deserves to play Oscar-bait in "Dreamgirls," it's Hudson and her healthy pipes.

In the wake of triumphant, Oscar-winning musical bio-pics such as "Ray" and "Walk the Line," "Dreamgirls" appears to have missed its prime opportunity to make the same lasting impact it did on Broadway 25 years ago. The music thunders, the vocals tower, and the costumes sparkle, but there셲 no meat to this empty production. It's sweating so hard to entertain that it forgets to engage.

C
Which films opening this Christmas will you be sure to see? (Pick up to 5)  (2006-12-11 ~ 2006-12-31)
Apocalypto
Happy Feet
Casino Royale
Deck the Halls
The Holiday
Rocky Balboa
Letters from Iwo Jima
The Santa Clause 3
Deja Vu
Blood Diamond
©2006 OhmyNews
Other articles by reporter Brian Orndorf

Add to :  Add to Del.icio.usDel.icio.us |  Add to Digg this Digg  |  Add to reddit reddit |  Add to Y! MyWeb Y! MyWeb

Ronda Hauben
 
Netizens Question Cause of Cheonan Tragedy
Michael Werbowski
 
[Opinion] Democracy's Downfall
Michael Solis
 
Arizona's Immigration Bill and Korea
Yehonathan Tommer
 
Assassination in Dubai
[ESL/EFL Podcast] Saying No
Seventeenth in a series of English language lessons from Jennifer Lebedev...
  [ESL/EFL] Talking About Change
  [ESL/ EFL Podcast] Personal Finances
  [ESL/EFL] Buying and Selling
How worried are you about the H1N1 influenza virus?
  Very worried
  Somewhat worried
  Not yet
  Not at all
    * Vote to see the result.   
KOREA WORLD SCI&TECH ART&LIFE ENTERTAINMENT SPORTS GLOBAL WATCH INTERVIEWS PODCASTS
  copyright 1999 - 2014 ohmynews all rights reserved. internews@ohmynews.com Tel:+82-2-733-5505,5595(ext.125) Fax:+82-2-733-5011,5077