Girl friends: Director Bill Condon (Chicago) stages another ambitious movie musical about three young women in 1963 Detroit, Michigan and their rise to fame. Dreamgirls (PG-13) follows Deena, Lorell, and Effie are the Dreamettes and when the film starts they lose an amateur competition and eventually end up singing backup for James "Thunder" Early (an exuberant Eddie Murphy channeling James Brown and Little Richard at the same time). Once they become involved with snakey manager Curtis Taylor, Jr (Jamie Foxx at his oiliest), he decides that powerhouse talent and overweight Effie should take a backseat to svelte yet personality free voiced Deena. Deena also takes Effie's place in Curtis's bed.
The movie is based on the story of the Supremes and it makes no bones about making the three women very "Supremelike" in their movements, hair, and once Deena takes center stage, making her a Diana Rosslike diva. The songs are all good; reflective of the characters emotions and a true reflection of the times. It was first a Broadway show and on Broadway Effie was played by Jennifer Holliday and in the film Jennifer Hudson steps into Holliday's shoes and makes the role her own. Hudson was a contestant on season 3 of American Idol but was voted out early on. She's the one laughing now; with her powerhouse voice and strong acting chops, she is the star of the show and it does show. Beyonce Knowles who plays Deena is good in the role, however, it doesn't really require much acting of her but there is a good song (written for the movie, not in the original show) called "Listen" which Deena sings and it's probably the best things I've ever heard from Beyonce.
The film as a whole is flat more times than not but there are some highlights such as the songs "One Night Only," "Steppin' To The Bad Side," "Listen," and, of course, the show stopper, "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going." The people in the theater actually clapped after that song finished; it was refreshing to hear that. They also clapped after the movie finished. How cool that people still do that at the theater. It's not a great film and lacks the overall thrill that Condon's Chicago had. It's still worth seeing it for Hudson's performance.
Bags of popcorn (out of 5): Movie: 3, Hudson's performance: 5
Best Supporting Actor: Eddie Murphy
Best Supporting Actress: Jennifer Hudson