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63 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Dream Continues...
For those of you who aren't familiar with DREAMGIRLS it was a hit Broadway musical, created in 1981, based "loosely" on the real monster girl group The Supremes, Berry Gordy and Motown. And although it took almost 25 years to make, the movie version is spectacular.

Following the meteoric rise of the fictitious "Dreams," the story takes place in Detroit in 1962...
Published on May 2, 2007 by Alex Honda

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 3.5 Stars: Pleasing but a bit disappointing too.
This film belongs to Hudson and Murphy who are both far more talented than most ever expected.

I knew Jennifer Hudson could sing from her stint on American Ido, but I had no idea that was an actress too and I mean a top quality actress capable of pulling off an Academy Award in her very first film. It's my sincere hope that we will see much more of her in the...
Published on August 21, 2007 by Steven Hedge


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63 of 77 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Dream Continues..., May 2, 2007
By 
For those of you who aren't familiar with DREAMGIRLS it was a hit Broadway musical, created in 1981, based "loosely" on the real monster girl group The Supremes, Berry Gordy and Motown. And although it took almost 25 years to make, the movie version is spectacular.

Following the meteoric rise of the fictitious "Dreams," the story takes place in Detroit in 1962 and ends in Los Angeles in 1975. In between you witness the joy, sorrow and bitterness--as some dreams die, while others live. And being a period movie, DREAMGIRLS doesn't feel dated or unrealistic. It captures the excitement and turbulence of the 60s or at least the romanticized ideal of it...perfectly.

Anyway enough about the movie and on to the DVD.

This dvd set contains two dvds:

***DVD #1 FEATURE FILM; 12 EXTENDED/ADDITIONAL MUSICAL NUMBERS

I won't list the 12 songs but the title track "Dreamgirls" and the show stopper "And I Am Telling You..." are not part of this 12. With the exception of the song "Effie, Sing My Song," at least from what I could tell, most of these musical numbers are just different edits/film cuts than those that made it into the film. For instance, you'll see more of the performance rather than the cutaways to other scenes, which you see in the movie...so they're not sung differently.
What's good about this is that you get to see the entire performance of the opening acts(The Stepp Sisters, L'il Albert and The Tru-Tones, Tiny Joe Dixon) without the cutaway shots that show what's going on behind the stage. No additional lyrics: the songs are exactly as they are on the deluxe edition music cd of Dreamgirls: Music From The Motion Picture [2-CD Deluxe Edition].
One alternative musical number that's very different is the song "Effie, Sing My Song." In the movie, the lines are spoken. However they did film the song version where C.C. and Effie share a duet. And that's included here.

***DVD #2 DOCUMENTARY ON THE MAKING OF DREAMGIRLS; ORIGINAL AUDITION AND SCREEN TEST VIDEOS; FEATURETTES ABOUT THE FASHION, FILM EDITING, THEATRICAL LIGHTING; PRE-VISUALIZATION SEQUENCES; IMAGE GALLERY

In all fairness, I haven't seen the entire second dvd. The reason being is that the documentary on the making of DREAMGIRLS is nearly TWO-HOURS long! Running at one-hour and fifty-five minutes, the documentary called "Building the Dream" chronicles the journey that started as an idea from Broadway creators Tom Eyen, Henry Krieger, and Michael Bennett to finally becoming the most hyped and anticipated film of 2006. But don't worry, that's not the beef of the documentary. Most of it takes you behind the scenes of what it took to put this huge movie together from the set design to the casting; from the choreography to staying true to the original score.
It's a fascinating look at the challenges director Bill Condon faced when deciding to take on this project. I always thought that "Dreamgirls" would've been easy to make into a film because you already started with everything in place. How wrong I was! Not only are you competing in a genre not too popular today, but you have to compete with the beloved original. Well, I must pay homage to Condon. He pulled it off.
Anyway, the documentary is told through home video of the recording sessions, casting calls, set design, rehearsals etc., as well as principal cast member interviews and of course the main people working behind the scenes like director Condon, executive producers, choreographers, music producers etc.

If nothing else, this documentary alone is worth the extra price for the two-set dvd of DREAMGIRLS.

And for those of you die hard fans of the original Broadway show or soundtrack, who liked this movie version, will be happy to know that the song "A'int No Party" is supposed to be included in the "audition tapes" section of the special features. There is a snippet of it in the documentary and Anika Noni Rose was working that song. So I'm sure it has to be included in the screen tests. But even if it isn't, remember I haven't seen the entire second dvd, the documentary "Building The Dream" makes up for it.

Anyway, if you enjoyed the movie, you'll enjoy this dvd set. It's a dream that will give you "more and more." If you haven't seen the movie, well you're in for a treat. It's exciting and keeps you at the edge of your seat. And not being an action film, that's saying a lot!
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eddie Can Sing!, May 15, 2007
By 
B. Merritt "filmreviewstew.com" (WWW.FILMREVIEWSTEW.COM, Pacific Grove, California United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
Musicals aren't really my thing. Many feel forced as the cast breaks out into song at the most bizarre of times. Cheesy is perhaps the best descriptor, but occasionally I enjoy a good toe-tapping flick if it's done right. And DREAMGIRLS is definitely done right. It certainly ranks up there with MOULIN ROUGE and CHICAGO as one of the more recently successful musical films, it too being a period piece (covering the late 50s through the early 70s).

Acting in these style of films tends to lend itself more to dance moves than actual roleplaying of characters, but there are two highly mentionable performances in Dreamgirls: first time actress Jennifer Hudson of American Idol fame, and a major comeback role for Eddie Murphy. Hudson took home Best Actress trophies from The Golden Globes, The BAFTAs, The Screen Actors Guild and The Oscars for her portrayal of Effie White, the powerful and ultimately embittered lead singer for The Dreamettes. Eddie Murphy as James "Thunder" Early is surprisingly excellent, perhaps helping wash away the stains of DADDY DAYCARE and THE ADVENTURES OF PLUTO NASH from his more recent, acting, downward spiral. Murphy can sing alongside Hudson and Beyonce and hold his own, too.

The added entertaining fact about Dreamgirls is that there's an actual story behind the music, making this film much more watchable than many musicals which rely solely on their high notes rather than acting skill. This story is firmly entrenched in the early music industry as a "white-washed" form of entertainment, separating it from "black music"...until Curtis Taylor (Jamie Foxx, JARHEAD), a car salesman in search of more, jumps into the music biz and launches his own record label (Rainbow Records). Foxx's Taylor character is another smashing success for him in that he makes this man both lovable and despised as he turns from caring manager to control freak.

Likewise, Murphy's Early character is someone who's moral ground we're never quite sure of. He's a married man with womanizing tendencies, but he's also a musical purist, trying to create sounds that are true to him while at the same time dismantling what he once was (a great, yet small, singing sensation). His fall from grace hits the viewer hard as heroin, time, and his own industry begin taking their toll.

But veterans Murphy and Foxx can't hold a candle to newcomer Hudson's performance. She is the crux that holds the entire production together, and she does so with power, grace and a great emotional range. The ending is sure to choke-up many viewers.

The only complaint I can lodge against the entire film was within one small section where Effie (Hudson) breaks out into a long chorus about being wronged by Foxx and the other Dreamettes. This seemed rather awkward and I would've liked to have seen this acted out in dialogue rather than burst into song.

Still, this is a powerful musical film that deserves much praise ...and has rightfully gotten it.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars 3.5 Stars: Pleasing but a bit disappointing too., August 21, 2007
By 
Steven Hedge "Movie Fan" (Somewhere "East of Eden") - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This film belongs to Hudson and Murphy who are both far more talented than most ever expected.

I knew Jennifer Hudson could sing from her stint on American Ido, but I had no idea that was an actress too and I mean a top quality actress capable of pulling off an Academy Award in her very first film. It's my sincere hope that we will see much more of her in the future even if the roles don't include music. Hudson is simply an acting find and a visual delight to behold on the screen. She is a charming as she is talented.

Eddie Murphy's performance is as much high energy, flamboyant, and satrical as it is subtle, emotional and insightful. I was floored by his flawless performance in this film and found it a terrible shame that he followed this dynamic performance with the totally distasteful Norbit which was released just prior to the Academy Awards and in which some believe cost him the Oscar.

Members of the Academy are well-known for voting out an actor or actress based upon his or her personality as was the case with Madonna who gave an Oscar-caliber performance in Evita, but was shunned because she was . . . well . . . Madonna, and for voting out an actor or actress based upon a poor follow-up film released the same year and don't want to reward what they may consider a "fluke" performance as with Whoppie Goldberg in The Color Purple (thankfully she finally got her well-deserved Oscar for Ghost) years later.

I believe Murphy really blew his Oscar chances for this film because of "Norbit" and that isn't fair, but it was predictable based on past Academy voting tendencies. I generally believe in not holding things against a performer or a specific performance, but I have to admit that even I have moments of extreme bias, like anyone else, so I can understand how that happens. This may have been Murphy's only real good shot at an Oscar, but we can always hope that he will be given another juicy role like this one to strut his considerable talents.

Beyonce Knowles is no great actress, but she has terrific stage/screen presence that more than compensates for anything that she is lacking in genuine acting talent. To her credit, I actually had trouble recognizing her early in the film. I even asked my wife, "Where the hell is Beyonce? I thought she had a big role in this film." My wife then pointed her out and I was rather surprised at how well she disappeared into her role. However, the more I thought about it the more I thought she didn't just "disappear" in what started out as a supporting role, but was simply more out shined and out-acted by Jennifer Hudson. I don't mean that as an insult to Beyonce or her acting talent as she does have acting talent, but when surrounded by more genuine talent her limitations are clear no matter how beautiful she is, or how gifted she is as a singer, or how engaging she is generally as a stage performer.

Moving on to Jamie Foxx I have to say that I was somewhat disappointed with his performance in the film. I can't pinpoint the problem, but I just feel that he felt somewhat out of his league amongst these great female performers. His performance was simply below what he is capable of delivering, but that doesn't mean he was awful or miscast; he just wasn't at his best.

Now, one might question that with all this talent in the film why so many on here haven't given it 5 stars. I think the problem with this film is with the director. The film seems disjointed somehow. The editing isn't very smooth, transitions are weak, and the lack of focus on just who the "stars" are in the film creates an uneven film that works better in clips. In other words, the sum of the parts don't equal the whole. That may explain why so many "liked" the film, but didn't "love" it. It goes down smooth enough, but it never became what it could have become and that feeling is usually the fault of the director.

Overall, this is a fun and entertaining musical with some strong, dynamic performances, but still somewhat weak for this genre.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars It's Wonderful Entertainment, April 5, 2007
"Dreamgirls," originally a hit Broadway production in the 1980s, is a lavish musical inspired by the history of Motown and its super group The Supremes. Like the songs in "Grace of My Heart" which is clearly based on the career of Carole King, the soundtrack music of "Dreamgirls," good as it is, can't match the power of the real Motown sound. Actually the film's musical numbers hardly sound like Motown Sound, but still some of them are real showstoppers thanks to the film's gifted stars, especially the dynamic singing voice of Oscar-winner Jennifer Hudson.

In "Dreamgirls" you should not expect much from the story, which runs a familiar course of superstars or celebrities, with the meteoric rise of three R&B singers (played by Beyoncé Knowles, Jennifer Hudson and Anika Noni Rose) to the fame and their subsequent troubles and ego-clashing within the members and their shrewd, business-minded producer/manager (Jamie Foxx). It is a same old story you have heard somewhere else in gossip magazines. .

Once the three girls' dreams come true with the glitter of showbiz, it takes the center of their lives, and once it does, none of the characters are allowed to breathe much. Anika Noni Rose and Danny Glover are not given enough time for their characters, and even the role of Beyoncé Knowles is not fleshed out satisfactorily. Eddie Murphy is outstanding as a popular singer and ladies' man named James "Thunder" Early (with a haircut like Little Richard's), but there is nothing new in Thunder's story about his love affair and fading stardom.

Still I enjoyed watching "Dreamgirls". I know it has lots of shortcomings, and I hear the complaints from the fans of the original stage (which I haven't seen). Yes, I know. Perhaps the number of the film's shortcomings depends on each viewer's taste or expectations, and I liked the filmed version of "Dreamgirls" for what it is. I like it for its entertainment values such as gorgeous costumes, beautifully staged live scenes and cinematography, plus the powerful, emotionally-charged songs by Jennifer Hudson, all of which compensate for the lack of a better story.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars What's on the DVDs, March 6, 2007
Paramount just announced "Dreamgirls" for May 1, the campaign starring a double-disc "Showstopper Edition" with a glitzy package of extras. The title also is coming out with in two-DVD sets for both HD formats (unusual) and a single-disc DVD version with some deleted scenes.

The box art mentions Jennifer Hudson's Oscar, but the big type goes to the film's Golden Globe for best picture. Smart marketing since the movie didn't make the cut to get into the Academy Awards' best pic race.

Par promises "12 extended and alternate scenes including a DVD-exclusive, never-before-seen performance by Jennifer Hudson of 'Effie Sing My Song,' a feature-length documentary entitled 'Building the Dream' presented in nine chapters, behind-the-scenes featurettes on the costume design, editing and lighting of the film, cast member auditions and screen tests, previsualization sequences and more." Most but not all of the extras come formatted for HD.

Specs: Widescreen enhanced for 16:9 TVs (single disc also available full screen) with Dolby Digital English 5.1 Surround, English 2.0 Surround and French 5.1 Surround with English and Spanish subtitles. Sorry, audio buffs, no DTS. It's a real shame to see a musical this rich come out without the superior audio format. Perhaps the HD formats will get to show off their superior sound abilities, an upgrade that by and large we're still waiting to experience. Guy can dream, right?
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32 of 43 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One BIG voice, January 9, 2007
During Jennifer Hudson's first song (I don't remember which song that was), I turned to my friend and whispered, "This girl lost?" I was, of course, referring to American Idol. For those who don't know this, in an interesting reversal of fortunes, Jennifer Hudson beat out former American Idol winner Fantasia for the role. And now, she's nominated for a Golden Globe, and has already snagged eleven awards (see imdb). Talk about life imitating art.

Translating a Broadway smash to the screen is never easy, but this seemed seamless, and the other cast members, specifically Beyonce, Eddie Murphy, and Jamie Foxx, lent the film extraordinary believability.

I generally don't enjoy musicals, but listening to Jennifer Hudson sing was absolutely a revelation.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Deep, December 16, 2007
Firstly I really enjoyed the musical numbers from every character. The loose story of the Supremes, I mean Dreams is fairly entertaining but not as engrossing as I would have hoped. I found I didn't really care that much about any of the characters. I especially didn't like the Hudson character Effie. I was hoping for her fall since her first minute on screen. She has a nice voice, but I couldn't stand her character. I guess I was hoping this would play less like a broadway show and go deeper into the characters like a movie. As it jumped forward in time, often I was hoping it would slow down a bit to see the transformation that every character seem to go through. This is worth seeing if only for the great music.
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16 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Dreamgirls will never leave you.", January 13, 2007
"Dreamgirls" is based on the eighties Broadway musical hit (it won six Tony Awards, including Best Musical and Best Original Score). In 1963, three Detroit black female vocalists, the Dreamettes, start at the bottom but are willing to work hard to make it to the big time. Beyonce Knowles plays Deena Jones with cool elegance, Anika Noni Rose is an adorable Lorrell Robinson, and Jennifer Hudson makes her impressive movie debut as the passionate and irrepressible Effie White. Effie is overweight and average looking; she does not fit the mold of the typical sultry lead singer. What Effie lacks in conventional beauty, however, she more than makes up for with her outstanding vocal ability and stage presence. The lives of these three women change when they meet the ambitious and slick Curtis Taylor, Jr. (Jamie Foxx), who arranges for the group to go on the road as backup for the sassy and flamboyant James "Thunder" Early, played to perfection by the amazing Eddie Murphy. Curtis has big plans; his goal is to break out of the "Chitlin Circuit," and garner the attention of mainstream audiences.

The story of Curtis Taylor parallels the meteoric rise of Berry Gordy, Jr., who helped shape the careers of many legendary singers and groups, including the Supremes, Marvin Gaye, Gladys Knight, Stevie Wonder, and the Jackson Five. These artists, along with Gordy, created the Motown Sound that defined an era and changed the course of musical history.

Writer/director, Bill Condon, wisely keeps his main focus on the lives of his characters, whom we come to know and understand intimately. Danny Glover plays an agent from the old school who is quickly shunted aside by Curtis Taylor. In his determination to succeed, Taylor resorts to payola and other dirty tricks and when she becomes a liability, he dumps his lover, Effie. She is replaced by Deena Jones, a more attractive lead singer in Curtis's eyes, as well as a woman he would love to get to know a little better. Under Taylor's tutelage, the group, now known as the Dreams, soars in popularity and becomes a sensation. The story also touches on the civil rights movement (Effie makes a joke about Martin Luther King having a record even though he can't even sing!) and the social and cultural changes that were beginning to transform American society.

The film succeeds for other reasons in addition to its fine performances, including the beautifully staged musical numbers that sizzle with electricity, gorgeous costumes, fine cinematography, and skillful editing. There are a few flaws: occasional lines of stilted dialogue and some banal songs that fall short of the marvelous "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going," "Listen," and "One Night Only." However, these minor defects are offset by Condon's well-written script, which carefully avoids too much sentimentality and contains enough humor to keep the movie from taking itself too seriously. At the same time, Condon effectively explores the ugliness of racism, the price of fame, and the importance of loyalty and personal integrity. "Dreamgirls" works on many levels and it provides two hours of solid musical entertainment.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Movie, June 27, 2007
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I never saw the original Broadway play, but this was a wonderful movie and I only gave it four stars because I didn't like the way it ended. Jennifer Hudson did not play Effie, she was Effie. Eddie Murphy gave a very convincing portrayal. I immediately purchased a copy as soon as it became available to add to my personal collection.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Jennifer Hudson, Eddie Murphy and Lots of Splash Make for A Memorable Entertainment, April 12, 2008
DREAMGIRLS opened on Broadway in 1981 and was in the running for a film version long, long before it closed in 1985. Very loosely based on the lives and career of The Supremes, it told the story of a black girl group whose cross-over from "race records" to the pop charts fuel the success of an increasingly cut-throat recording mogul--and find the price of fame and fortune in the recording industry too high for their liking.
While it borrows a great deal from numerous music personalities and stories of the 1960s and 1970s, DREAMGIRLS is essentially a riff on the career of The Supremes and the group's relationship with Motown founder Berry Gordy.

The Supremes were originally created by Florence Ballard, a powerhouse vocalist who worked with Diana Ross and Mary Wilson as back up singers. Berry sought a group that could cross over into the pop charts and reformulated the line-up, moving the prettier Diana Ross to lead--and ultimately dismissing Ballard from the group entirely, replacing her with Cindy Birdsong. After the music industry turned its back on Ballard, she declined in alcoholism and poverty and died at age 32. She is widely regarded as one of the great tragic figures on the long list of American rock and roll casualties.

When DREAMGIRLS opened on Broadway in 1981 critics praised its powerhouse performances and its dazzling staging--but were somewhat less favorable toward its script and score, noting that the characters were one-note and with one or two exceptions that the score was neither memorable nor able to capture the sharply crafted pop hooks of the Motown style it tried to mimic. Even so, the play ran five years, and over the years numerous studios, producers, directors, and stars have took a crack at bringing it to the screen--something that didn't happen until 2006. And once more critics praised its powerhouse performances and dazzling staging--and were considerably less enthusiastic about its script and score.

The great flaw in DREAMGIRLS is that, while it centers on the story of Florence Ballard, neither the stage nor screen version actually has the nerve to play it out: it, the rivalry between Ballard and Ross, and the brutalities of the music business are actually somewhat underplayed in an effort to place every character in a softer light. As for the music, the score does include the stunning "I'm Telling You I'm Not Going," but the original criticism stands: although pleasant enough, the songs are not particularly memorable and they do indeed lack the sharp, slick edges of the Motown sound that inspired them.

Like many another period film, the look is not really accurate: instead of accurately depicting the 1960s and 1970s it is that era as seen through a modern filter, the 1960s and 1970s as we tend to recall them rather than as they actually were. Even so, there is plenty of visual splash; the costumes, the concert stagings, and the overall art design is quite fine, and you never actually question accuracy while it unfolds before. And then there are the performances.

With the exception Jamie Foxx, who seems slightly miscast in the role of music manager and producer Curtis Taylor, DREAMGIRLS is filled with memorable performances. Although she does not imitate Diana Ross per se, Beyonce Knowles captures Ross' look and sense of style remarkably well; Danny Glover offers a memorable turn as agent Marty Madison; and overall the supporting cast is quite fine. But the big noises her are Eddie Murphy as James Early, a role based on several singers of the era but most particularly on James Brown, and Jennifer Hudson as Effy White, the role based on Florence Ballard.

Murphy's film career has been very up and down over the years, ranging from the popular 48 HOURS to the diastrous HARLEM NIGHTS, and he is at present best known for such mild comedies as DR. DOOLITTLE and NORBIT. He typically plays himself--but DREAMGIRLS puts him on the acting map in a serious way. Not only does he does he offer an extraordinary bit of work as the flamboyant but self-destructive R&B singer, he tears strips off his musical numbers. Prior to her appearance in DREAMGIRLS, Jennifer Hudson was best know as an also-ran on television's American Idol, which entirely failed to anticipate the depths of her vocal talents and acting skill. DREAMGIRLS, however, exploited what television missed--and while it is technically a supporting role, Hudson's Effie White is the glue that holds the whole thing together. It is easily the most remarkable screen debut since Barbra Striesand's 1968 FUNNY GIRL.

DREAMGIRLS is not a "perfect" film, much less a "great" musical. As previously noted, the script is a bit weak and the music slightly below expectations, and when all is said and done it's a bit too glossy for its own good. But it is easy on the eyes, the cast is solid, and you'll never be less than amazed by Murphy and Hudson. The one-disk DVD offers extended scenes but little else; if you are a hardcore fan you'll no doubt want to go with the double disk special edition. Recommended.

GFT, Amazon Reviewer
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Dreamgirls [Blu-ray]
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