June 10, 2023
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Latest big-screen musical lives up to the hype

Based on the Broadway musical of the same name, “Dreamgirls” is an inspiring toe-tapper that chronicles the lives of Effie White (Jennifer Hudson), Deena Jones (Beyoncé Knowles) and Lorrell Robinson (Anika Noni Rose), as they follow their dreams of pop stardom. The girls get their big break when they are hired as back-up singers for R&B drug addict, man-whore and singer, James “Thunder” Early (Eddie Murphy).

The story of “Dreamgirls” is based on the legendary, tumultuous relationship between The Supremes and the group’s label, Motown Records.

It was producer Berry Gordy who replaced lead singer Florence Ballard with Diana Ross because of her skinnier figure and gentler appearance, which he felt was more likely to appeal to white audiences.

In the film, Curtis Taylor Jr. (Jamie Foxx), a Detroit car salesman looking to break out in the music industry, decides to replace Effie as lead singer of the Dreams with childhood friend Deena for the same reasons: weight and white audience appeal.

Hudson, who won a Golden Globe for best supporting actress for her work in the film, proves Simon Cowell wrong with every note she belts. Not only can she act, but the once-belittled “American Idol” contestant out-sings Knowles in a powerful performance of “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.”

Though Hudson gives the breakthrough performance, it is each actor’s individual strength that helps to portray “Dreamgirls”’ most prominent theme: black equality in the music industry.

Knowles could have used a more challenging script to further establish herself as a talented actress. But as with all her work, anything she touches turns to gold.

Murphy stuns audiences with the strong vocals few knew he possessed, and Foxx shows his versatility by playing the bad guy who can still burst into song.

“Dreamgirls” is an entrancing musical with three Golden Globe wins and eight Oscar nominations under its belt. This leaves writer/director Bill Condon with only one concern: having to find a place to fit all those awards.

“Dreamgirls” was written and directed by Bill Condon.

“Dreamgirls” received 3 1/2 stars out of 4.