Last night I saw the much hyped Beyonce movie Dreamgirls...and as it turns out of the three actresses on stage, not only was she the weakest actress of the three, she was clearly the weakest singer as well. Now don't get me wrong, she did a more than passable, in some respects an actually a very good turn as Deena, but when her costars Jennifer Hudson or Anika Noni Rose opened their mouths to sing, the poor girl was turned into little more than scenery.
This fictional tale of good girl group the Dreamettes to back up singers for James "Thunder" Early to the stars as the Dreams and the trials and tribulations success brings is well done, with a few small glitches that you gloss over in the theater, but make you wonder just a bit when you think about it a bit. Like whe they were in the studio and Effie walks out into the Detroit Riots ? Or when they replaced Effie with little or no notice and no press cared or made mention? Or the sudden 1950's style musical interludes to the story, with the leads singing dialogue.
Other than that, you get engrossed and at times emotionally invested in the story.
A story of the climb to fame, the changes and sacrifices, the drama, fall and return. It feels odd to say I don't want to give away the ending of a play that has been running on Broadway for 25 years, but since the theater I saw it in was crowded - and the previous four showings were sold out - I'm guessing that a lot of people had heard of it but never seen the actual performance. That or they are really really ardent Beyonce fans.
For those who don't know, the original Dreamgirls was written as a vehicle for the incredibly vocally talented, but generously proportioned Nell Carter. The story is that of the character Effie White and her struggle with having the talent but not the look, not a fictionalization of the Diana Ross and the Supremes (their story hardly ended as well) nor of Berry Gordy and the Motown label (though it draws quite a bit from that tale). That Beyonce's name appears next to the lead Jamie Foxx attests to her draw value, not her role or talent.
Hearing Jennifer Hudson sing however, some will question why she doesn't have more music on the charts, and why a certain someone else does (although this movie is clear why things like this happen).
A few months ago I heard the Oscar whisper in relation to this adapation, and I'm going to add my two nickels in that there are some fine performances in the pic. Both Jamie Foxx and an astonishing Eddie Murphy mold themselves into their roles. Ms. Hudson as well may find herself in the running for a statue as well as an able Danny Glover or Anki Noni Rose.
But if a certain name is called by the Academy in relation to this picture, I'm going to have call Shennanigans!
Barkeep - two shots of Patrone.