Pop Culture Princess

Pop Culture Princess
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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

If you see a movie one night only,make it Dreamgirls

I ended my 2006 movie going on a high note with Dreamgirls and boy,did it make me happy. Never before had I been in a movie theater where the audience clapped several times during the film and for a particular character during the end credits. Since the praise machine has already kicked into gear for this film,I've decided to go over a few talking points that have come up from those who love and/or hate DG:


This question comes up mainly because director Bill Condon was one of the screenwriters for Chicago(that was directed by Rob Marshall) and some of the negative criticism given to Dreamgirls has been aimed at the style of the movie,calling it"paint-by-the-numbers". Having not seen the original stage show of either one,I don't think it's fair to compare the two. The theme of both stories are as different from each other as apples are to skyscrapers. One is a dark satire on how playing the fame game can help someone literally get away with murder and the other is a fictional re-telling of the rise of the Supremes and Berry Gordy's Motown.

The one thing Dreamgirls and Chicago do have in common is that they are well executed adaptations of Broadway musicals that have gathered up plenty of award show nominations and critical approval. How well Dreamgirls will do when the Golden Globes are presented or Oscar nominees are announced is yet to be seen but it's a good bet that DG will be well rewarded.


While Beyonce does have her name and image prominantly displayed in the advertising for Dreamgirls,it's been Jennifer Hudson,who plays the role of Effie White that was made famous by Jennifer Holliday,who has been captivating both fans and critics alike. She's the one who recieved the most applause during the matinee I watched the movie at;folks even waited during the end credits to see her character montage and clapped yet again.

Beyonce is okay as Deena Jones,the Diana Ross doppleganger of the story,but her performance in Dreamgirls is on the same level as Madonna's in Desparately Seeking Susan in that she's pretty much playing herself. Also,Beyonce has been a tad overexposed lately,so I'm not that crazy about her at the moment(that time when she had to sing every song at the Academy Awards-even when the original artist was there,they were forced into a duet!-was really pushing her star status there).

Jennifer Hudson,on the other hand,is a breath of fresh air. I didn't watch the season of American Idol that she was on but even if I had,her performance in Dreamgirls still would've blown me away. She makes the part her own and has the poise and confidence of a much more seasoned actress. Here's a couple of clips that not only showcase her pipes but her acting as well:

Both ladies have recieved Golden Globe noms,Beyonce for Lead and Hudson for Best Supporting. While I'm not alone in thinking those roles should be reversed,the important thing is that they are both being honored here. Jennifer Hudson should win a Golden Globe and an Oscar for her work,no question about it. Beyonce's big number written especially for the film,"Listen" will no doubt be among the Best Songs performed on Oscar night but "Love You,I Do" also qualifies since it was just created for the movie,too.

It would be something to have both of them sing at the Oscars. For an idea of what that might be like,watch these two versions of "One Night Only" to compare and contrast. First up is Jennifer Hudson,from the Tonight Show:

And here is Beyonce's official movie tie-in video for the song:

There's also plenty of debate over who is better as Effie,Holliday or Hudson. It's an old sticking point to make whenever someone takes over a part made so well known by another performer. Both of them are excellant singers in their own right who bring their strengths to the table. While it's been easy to find a clip of Holliday singing "And I Am Telling You"(when they use to have whole scenes from shows on the Tony Awards),there isn't one of Jennifer Hudson's rendition to compare. Guess you'll have to watch the movie to see how she measures up to the original:

Despite all of the hullabaloo,Dreamgirls is worth your hard earned do-re-mi at the mulitplex and then some. There are other great performances from Jamie Foxx and Eddie Murphy(who maybe be able to get some more interesting film roles based on this movie)along with toe tapping songs and emotional scenes that bring tears to your eyes. I'm not exaggerating,I nearly cried twice and I'm not one of those weeping willow types,believe you me. Go see Dreamgirls and take it in for yourself,it's a theaterical treat for the soul.


Anonymous said...

Lady T, I just saw it yesterday, and I a hundred percent agree with you. And clearly Hudson is the real thing. As lovely as Beyonce is, she just didn't have a fraction of the fire Jennifer Hudson did. Hudson was the most interesting thing on the screen the whole way through.

And Eddie Murphy was unbelievably good. Finally!

lady t said...

I dug Eddie Murphy alot here-just wish that he wasn't following that performance up with Norbitt(which looks awful,based on the trailer I've seen so far).

Anonymous said...

Great writeup! Love love loved this movie - saw it twice. (Love your blog, too!). Did you catch the Holliday reference in the nightclub scene right before I Am Changing? Marty leans over to Ken Page, and says, "Holliday?" to which Ken responds, "Great voice, MEAN temper."

Most likely a reference to Billie...but too coincidental, no?

That clever Condon.

lady t said...

I remember that scene,Robert,but thought it was a reference to Billie. Yeah,it's a nice shoutout to the original Jennifer as well:)

Don't be stranger,my man-come on back anytime!