Dreamgirls (Two-Disc Showstopper Edition)
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Besides the Supremes comparison, one can't talk about Dreamgirls now without revisiting its notorious Oscar snub; though it received eight nominations, the most for any film from 2006, it was shut out of the Best Picture and Director races entirely. Was the oversight justified? While Dreamgirls is certainly a handsomely mounted, lovingly executed and often vibrant film adaptation, it inspires more respect than passion, only getting under your skin during the musical numbers, which become more sporadic as the film goes on. Writer-director Bill Condon is definitely focused on recreating the Motown milieu (down to uncanny photographs of Knowles in full Diana Ross mode), he often forgets to flesh out his characters, who even on the Broadway stage were underwritten and relied on powerhouse performances to sell them to audiences. (Stage fans will also note that numerous songs are either truncated or dropped entirely from the film.) Condon has assembled a game cast, as Knowles does a canny riff on the essence of Diana Ross' glamour (as opposed to an all-out impersonation) and Rose makes a peripheral character surprisingly vibrant; only Foxx, who never gets to pour on the charisma, is miscast. Still, there are two things even the most cranky viewers will warm to in Dreamgirls: the performances of veteran Eddie Murphy and newcomer Jennifer Hudson. Murphy is all sly charm and dazzling energy as the devilish Early, who's part James Brown, part Little Richard, and all showman. And Hudson, an American Idol contestant who didn't even make the top three, makes an impressive debut as the larger-than-life Effie, whose voice matches her passions and stubbornness. Though she sometimes may seem too young for the role, Hudson nails the movie's signature song, "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going," with a breathtaking power that must be seen and heard to believe. And for those five minutes, if not more, you will be in Dreamgirls' thrall. --Mark Englehart
On the DVD
The two-disc edition of Dreamgirls includes videos, documentaries and other behind-the-scenes features. Diehard fans will love the almost two-hour "Building the Dream" documentary, which goes into loving detail about how the film got to be made. But it's the shorter segments that really capture the viewer's attention. The two auditions included in the set are a contrast in style. Pop singer Beyonce Knowles sells herself in full hair, makeup and costume; that she is a tad pitchy at times is almost beside the point. Tony Award winner Anika Noni Rose's audition is a tour de force; singing strong and with conviction and passion, Rose is fully in character regardless of the fact that she isn't dressed for the role. Oddly enough, the audition tape of Jennifer Hudson, who won an Academy Award for her breakthrough role as Effie, is nowhere to be seen. Sure, we all know what a powerhouse she is today. But it would've been nice to see what the filmmakers saw in her back then, when her competition included her American Idol castmate (and that season's winner) Fantasia Barrino. Hudson's performance of "Effie, Sing My Song"--which was not seen in the theatrical release--is included in this set, as are 12 extended musical numbers. Another nice touch is the inclusion of a dance rehearsal choreographed by Fatima Robinson (who has worked with the Backstreet Boys, Mary J. Blige, and Michael Jackson). Watching the rudimentary piece (with stand-ins subbing for the stars) come together gives the viewer appreciation for the intricate work that goes into each 3-minute musical number in the 130-minute film. Also included are a sequence of enhanced storyboards, a look at how the film's editor went about editing the picture, and a look at how the costumes played a part in the film. --Jae-Ha Kim
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Top Customer Reviews
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 ...Read more ›
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).Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Love this movie. I listen to the soundtrack everyday at work!Published 2 days ago by Gloria L Brown
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