Dreamgirls (2006)

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Released:  Monday, December 25, 2006  
Length:  130 minutes
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Genre: Drama
Rating: Dreamgirls is rated PG-13 by the Motion Picture Association of AmericaSome material may be inappropriate for children under 13.


Director Bill Condon brings his creative vision to life in this Director’s Extended Edition! Experience the big screen adaptation of Tom Eyen’s Tony award-winning Broadway musical in a tale of dreams, stardom, and the high cost of success in the cutthroat recording industry. The time is the 1960s, and singers Effie (Jennifer Hudson), Lorrell (Anika Noni Rose), and Deena (Beyoncé Knowles) are about to find out just what it's like to have their wildest dreams come true. Discovered at a local talent show by ambitious manager Curtis Taylor Jr. (Jamie Foxx), the trio known as "the Dreamettes" is soon offered the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of opening for popular singer James "Thunder" Early (Eddie Murphy). Subsequently molded into an unstoppable hit machine by Taylor and propelled into the spotlight as “the Dreams,” the girls quickly find their bid for the big time taking priority over personal friendship as Taylor edges out of the ultra-talented Effie so that the more beautiful Deena can become the face of the group. Now, as the crossover act continues to dominate the airwaves, the small-town girls with the big-city dreams slowly begin to realize that the true cost of fame may be higher than any of them ever anticipated.

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Dreamgirls Blu-ray Review

In 1981, a musical by Henry Krieger and Tom Eyen called Dreamgirls hit Broadway.  Based on the 1960's R&B acts trying and somewhat succeeding to make it in show business, it was nominated for 13 Tony awards, ultimately winning 6 plus two Grammys as well.  In 2006, Bill Condon (Beauty and the Beast – 2017 live-action film) wrote and directed a movie version that won two Oscars and launched Jennifer Hudson's (American Idol) career.  While the story seems to have similarities with the real-life drama that supposedly played out behind the scenes of the successful female trio, The Supremes, the creators have denied there is any connection.

Effie (Hudson), Deena (Beyonce Knowles; Foxxy Cleopatra) and Lorrell (Anika Noni Rose; Everything, Everything) are the Dreamettes, a girl vocal trio trying to get their big break in the 1960's Detroit show business scene.  When they are "discovered" at amateur night, they suddenly end up becoming back up singers for James "Thunder" Early (Eddie Murphy; Beverly HiIls Cop).  At first, content to be in the background, things change when they get their big break.

Effie, who is the best singer in the group, is switched to supporting singer behind Deena and she starts getting individualized attention causing Effie to become more and more jealous.  As they become bigger stars, Effie continually does things to sabotage herself, eventually getting kicked out of the group altogether.  When Deena gets together with Effie's boyfriend and the group's manager, Curtis Taylor,  Jr. (Jamie Foxx; Ray) everything falls apart for Effie while "The Dreams" continue to have success.

Dreamgirls is what happens when you have an amazing cast teamed up with a terrific director and an award-winning soundtrack.  As the stars align and the planets converge, you can sense that this film is something special and it really is.  Murphy embodies the 1960's soulful singer while Foxx is the smooth businessman who launches successful singing groups (the character is said to be based on Berry Gordy, Jr.).  Knowles and Noni Rose are great for their parts and their vocal talents are fantastic but Hudson has the meaty role and is the clear scene-stealer every moment she is on screen.  We alternately pity and despise Effie, ultimately relishing her triumph over her past.  Hudson sent chills through me and not just when she was singing.  Her performance is so powerful it is no shock that she won an Oscar.

The Director's Extended Edition Blu-ray combo pack is presented in 1080p high definition video and DTS:X audio.  The colors are sharp and bold in the girl's costumes while muted in other spots to represent 1960's downtown Detroit area.  The black tones are true and strong which adds a depth to the production.  The audio was actually a little disappointing to me as I didn't sense the true robust denseness of the orchestration and vocals across all the speakers.  I also thought there were moments when the dialogue was too soft.

The Director's Extended Edition cut set not only offers fuller versions of the songs and some scenes, it also has never before seen footage of Jennifer Hudson's audition and screen test.  It also has alternate scenes and a great photobook with wonderful pictures and select song lyrics.

It can always be a tricky thing when adapting an award-winning musical into a feature film but Condon did an excellent job of it.  Between the cast, the songs and the various angles he employs, the viewer is never bored or taken out of the story.  The soundtrack alone should keep you engrossed but the costumes, sets and the aforementioned cast all combined to make one heck of a movie.

Grade: A-


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