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A movie directed by Bill Condon

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Can You Hear the Sound of My Applause?

  • Dec 31, 2006
  • by
Pros: Outstanding performance by Eddie Murphy and Jennifer Hudson.

Cons: Nothng.

The Bottom Line: Can you hear the sound of my clapping, the joyous call of my delighted whistle?

Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot.

There are few movies I have seen this year—and I have seen quite a few—that can measure the emotional fulfillment of Dreamgirls. The movie is after all about music, the art form, which hand-n-hand with poetry, is supposed to touch the human soul. And this musical, based on the long running Broadway play by the same name, at times caused a tear to fall from this reviews (right) eye.

The music was moving, the performances powerful, the story compelling, the package well delivered. And it was gratifying to finally see a cast of Black Americans make a powerful, meaningful movie about something other than guns, violence, drugs, or the means street of L.A.

The Story-Line

Adapted for the silver screen and directed by Bill Condon (Gods and Monsters, Kinsey), Dreamgirls is a story based loosely on the 1960’s Supremes and the Motown sound brought to us by Barry Gordy that launched the careers of so many R&B performers. The story is centered on an all female group called the Dreamettes—later the be known as Denna Jones and the Dreamers—and consists of Denna Jones, portrayed by Beyonce Knowles (The Pink Panther), Lorrell Robinson, portrayed by Anika Noni Rose (Surviving Christmas), and Effie Melody White, portrayed by newcomer Jennifer Hudson.

The trio gets noticed by one Curtis Taylor Jr., portrayed by Jamie Foxx (Ray, Jarhead, Stealth), a Detroit car salesman who moonlights as a music agent. He convinces established R&B artist James "Thunder" Early, portrayed by Eddie Murphy (48 Hours, Doctor Dolittle, The Nutty Professor) to take them on as his backup singers, and their career (and his) is launched.

While Lorrell starts a reluctant affair with James that is to last eight years, Effie sets her eyes on Curtis as the girls start touring with Early. They are destined to remain Early’s backup singers until one night while performing in an all-white club in Miami Curtis realizes that the audience likes the Dreamettes and he books them at the club. But full figured Effie is demoted from lead singer to backup to Denna’s lead in order to give the group a new (television) face.

And so Curtis, who is now sleeping with Denna and Effie, devotes himself to crafting Deena as the lead singer, and changes the name of the group to Denna Jones and the Dreams. At first Effie is talked into going along with the changes, for the good of the family, but her anger and jealousy never subside and she eventually leaves the group, to be replaced by Michelle Morris, portrayed by Sharon Leal (Boston Public).

Denna Jones and the Dreams become and international sensation and Deena marries Curtis. Meanwhile Michelle takes up with Effie’s brother and principle song-writer for the group C.C., portrayed by Keith Robinson (III), (American Dreams, Over There), and Effie becomes delivers Curtis’s child and falls on hard times.

My Impressions

Dreamgirls is a powerful movie despite the “musical” tag some may apply to it. Bill Condon has managed the bridge the gap between Broadway musical and the silver screen and delivers a stellar movie. And while Ms. Knowles is given star billing on this film, it is Jennifer Hudson, the newcomer, loser of American Idol, who owns this film, at least the female lead. She is in almost every frame, and her very presence demands our attention. And her voice; it not often that we are allowed her hear such emotive beauty. Believe everything you are told—and then some—about Ms. Hudson's rendition of the Jennifer Holliday classic, And I am Telling You I'm Not Going. Hudson’s strong emotion-laden performance, brought me to tears, and I am not so easily moved. At the end of her performance the audience actually clapped; yes it was that darned good!

Honorable mention to Ms. Knowles; in the later half of the film she turns in an engaging and convincing performance, and at one points belts out a number of her own that showed surprising vocal range and emotional depth. And can this woman take a picture!

And kudos’s and much love too to Eddie Murphy and his outstanding performance, bravo, bravo, Mr. Murphy; he is the best he has ever been as the soul singer always looking for the new sound that will allow him to cross over to the Pop charts, but he quiet makes it. Murphy’s stage performances were mesmerizing, and this man can sing! Though his character was probably meant to be (late) James Brown, Murphy did not channel the legendary man, but instead brought his own style, charm, and bravo to the role.

Despite what some critics have floated the music for this movie is top notch, and Condon deftly weaves the numbers through the movie so that the drama is not supplanted by enhanced by their presence. I never felt as though I was watching a musical so keen was the interweave.

Jamie Foxx was okay (not outstanding) as the movie’s only baddie, Danny Glover turns is a masterful performance as Marty Madison, Early’s manager, and to Anika Noni Rose and Sharon Leal as the ever-faithful backup singers. Both of these beautiful women more then held their own in a cast filled with powerful performances.

When the light went up and the credits started to roll no one in the nearly full theater moved. Instead they clapped anew. And that sums up how I feels about Dreamgirls. Can you hear the sound of my clapping, the joyous call of my delighted whistle?


Viewing Format: DVD
Video Occasion: Good Date Movie
Suitability For Children: Suitable for Children Age 13 and Older

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More Dreamgirls reviews
Quick Tip by . March 03, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Jennifer Hudson is truly amazing.  She steals the movie.  Beyonce put in a good performance, but she looks like the back-up through out the whole movie.  Eddie Murphy also puts in a fine performance.  Jamie Fox and the rest of the cast provide a strong supporting background for the movie.
review by . December 30, 2008
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If they were alive today I am quite sure that Rogers and Hammerstein, Loerner and Lowe and all the others who brought us the great American musicals of the 1940's and 1950's would stand up and cheer for "Dreamgirls".  For this is a film steeped in the tradition of those fabulous M-G-M musicals of days gone by.  Executive Producer Patricia Whitcher pushed all of the right buttons in assembling an incredibly talented ensemble that makes "Dreamgirls" …
review by . May 02, 2007
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"Dreamgirls"    A Dream of a Film    Amos Lassen and Cinema Pride    What can I say about "Dreamgirls" that has not already been said? It is not just a movie, it's an experience. From the moment that the movie starts, you are dazzled by performances with passion, wonderful staging, amazing direction and the costumes...what can I say? It is an emotional spectacle even though the storyline is not new and the clichés are well...clichés but …
review by . January 16, 2007
Pros: Jennifer Hudson! Beyonce, Foxx's acting, bring-down-the-house numbers, costumes     Cons: pacing, Eddie Murphy's character, some duller songs     The Bottom Line: All I want for Christmas is Jennifer Hudson's voice.     Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot. When Jennifer Hudson was voted off of American Idol during the 2004 season, my mother and I were so devastated that we vowed to never watch …
review by . December 28, 2006
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Pros: Murphy     Cons: Songs can drag on a bit to long.     The Bottom Line: For Murphy alone, this film is a must see.     Plot Details: This opinion reveals minor details about the movie''s plot. The rise of Motown records is one of the music industries greatest tales. Berry Gordy Jr. in 1959 established the record label that not only made stars of numerous talents such as Diana Ross and the Supremes and the Jackson 5, but helped African …
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Vincent Martin ()
Ranked #43
I am an IT Professional and have worked in the industry for over 20 years. I may be a computer geek, but I also like reading, writing, cooking, music, current events and regretfully, politics.
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The 1982 Tony-Award-winning musical DREAMGIRLS shimmies its way to the big screen with a stellar cast and undeniable sheen. Set in 1960s Detroit, DREAMGIRLS follows the commercial and cultural struggles of the R&B recording industry, through the rise of the Dreamettes (later shortened to just the Dreams) from backup singers to headlining international superstars. The trio--Deena (Beyonci Knowles), Effie (Jennifer Hudson), and Lorrell (Anika Noni Rose)--soon discover the harsh reality behind the glamour of fame and fortune, as the group's controlling and shady manager, Curtis Taylor Jr. (Jamie Foxx), uses them to help build his musical empire and capture his dream of crossing over from R&B to the pop charts. He sacrifices Effie's immense talent as lead singer for Deena's stunning, more mainstream look to sell the sound, pushing marketable appeal over musical artisanship--and compromising the ambitions of his protigis. <br> <br> Since its Broadway debut, DREAMGIRLS has been widely rumored to be inspire...
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Director: Bill Condon
Genre: Music, Musical
Release Date: December 15, 2006
MPAA Rating: PG-13
DVD Release Date: Paramount Home Entertainment (May 01, 2007)
Runtime: 2hr 10min1 sec
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