Movie Review #685
Studio: DreamWorks SKG — Paramount Pictures — Laurence Mark Productions
Distributor: DreamWorks SKG — Paramount Pictures
Spoken Languages: English
Directed by Bill Condon. Produced by Laurence Mark. Screenplay by Bill Condon. Book by Tom Eyen.
Rated PG-13 by the MPAA — profanity, infrequent sexual content, infrequent drug material. Runs 2 hours, 10 minutes. Premiered at Austin Butt-Numb-A-Thon on December 9, 2006. Limited release in Los Angeles, California and New York City, New York on December 15, 2006. Wide release in the USA on December 25, 2006.
Starring Jamie Foxx, Beyoncé Knowles, Eddie Murphy, Danny Glover, Jennifer Hudson, Anika Noni Rose, and Keith Robinson. Also starring Sharon Leal, Hinton Battle, Mariah Wilson, Yvette Cason, Ken Page, John Lithgow, John Krasinski, Alexander Folk, Esther Scott, Jordan Wright, Dawnn Lewis, JoNell Kennedy, Sybyl Walker, Rory O’Malley, Ivar Brogger, Jocko Sims, Pam Trotter, Cleo King, and Charles Jones.
I like Eddie Murphy. Not post-2000 Eddie Murphy. SNL Eddie Murphy. “Beverly Hills Cop” Eddie Murphy. Stand-up comic Eddie Murphy. To consolidate all that jazz, real Eddie Murphy. “Dreamgirls” is a 2007 movie featuring Eddie Murphy in a supporting role. Not post-2000 Eddie Murphy. Nor the real Eddie Murphy we got used to in the ’80s. But a real Eddie Murphy, any way you slice it.
So why am I kicking off my “Dreamgirls” review with talk on Murphy, who only appears for a quarter of the film? Because it’s a thankful quarter of the film, and enough to prove that this movie does offer surprises. “Dreamgirls” is about racism and moreover sexism. This trio (Beyoncé Knowles, Anika Noni Rose, Jennifer Hudson) doesn’t want to be the backup singers for Jimmy Thunder (Murphy) or their boss’s (Jamie Foxx) playthings. I mean, have you even heard of the Raelettes? They’re the female voices you’ll hear in the background of pretty much any Ray Charles song. You want that little recognition, as the group of extras that nobody’s heard of, and you may as well have no talent whatsoever.
But these women do have talent. So they work on becoming the Dreamgirls, a trio on their own command.
“Dreamgirls” is an enjoyable musical with at least six great performances–those from Knowles, Rose, Hudson, Murphy, and Foxx, as well as a supporting performance from Danny Glover. Let’s face it, it’s not every day I’ll sit down and instantly decide to pop in a musical movie. No, “Dreamgirls” isn’t a classic, and Bill Condon’s “Chicago”, whether you love it or loathe it, has a decidedly better screenplay. Not that this one is bad, though. Its one bitter flaw is pacing, with a running time that overstays its welcome by about fifteen minutes. This being mostly thanks to the integration of one in every four or five songs. They’re used as interludes and heavily distract us from the plot. But nothing on the soundtrack is without chutzpah, regardless of where and how it’s placed. So, if you’re lookin’ for a good song and dance…here you are.
American Pie 2