Browse all reviews by letter     A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0 - 9

USA 2006
Directed by
Bill Condon
130 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Sharon Hurst
3.5 stars

Dream Girls

Synopsis: Detroit in the 60s: car salesman Curtis Taylor (Jamie Foxx) is trying to get into the music business when the Dreamettes show up for the local talent quest, Curtis takes them under his wing, organising a back-up gig for them behind R and B singer James “Thunder” Early (Eddie Murphy). The Dreamettes, Deena Jones (Beyoncé Knowles), Lorrell Robinson (Anika Noni Rose), and lead singer Effie White (Jennifer Hudson), are soon rechristened The Dreams, and their career takes off. But Curtis prefers the slimmer more marketable Deena to be lead singer, and soon rivalries develop and noses are out of joint as Effie is replaced by Michelle (Sharon Leal) and the quest to break into the white market begins.

This is a film version of a Broadway show, and what a good choice to bring it to life in Bill Condon who wrote the screen adaptation of Chicago so well. The temptation with this film is to try to see every character as a representation of a real-life singing star (did I hear someone mention Diana Ross and the Supremes?) Ultimately though it doesn’t really matter if the plot runs amazingly parallel to the lives of actual singers. What matters is that Dream Girls is a jolly good piece of entertainment that really is a delight for fans of the Motown, R n B scene of four decades ago, not to mention the disco scene that the Dreamettes also segue into.

Just as Chicago opened with an attention grabbing shot, so this film grabs us from the start, with lights, sequins and big buxom fillies in tight-fitting frocks. From there on it’s all go, with song after song, and a pacey plot line that moves right along. Condon’s film doesn’t have the pizzazz that Chicago had, but gives us a more old-fashioned feel, with all the appropriate requirements of big hair, big bottoms, big emotion and big voices!

The insight into the music scene is fascinating: the process of how a hit is born, and a sound “engineered”, as a conscious creation. Thus, Effie’s brother, composer CC (Keith Robinson), specially works on a song “Cadillac Car” for Early, which will change his previous style, and get him noticed. But when the song is ripped off by a white group Curtis goes on the offensive, restyling his artists to be palatable to white audiences.

Politically this is also an interesting film, as it portrays the era when only mainstream white artists got airplay, many of them poaching songs from the black artists, who just couldn’t get a look in. There were the white hit parade and the black equivalent, and the two did not intersect. But as the Civil Rights movement gathered force so the black artists started being noticed by white America and their songs began charting. Throughout the film there are references to the political background of the times which gives an added dimension to the story.

Many of the songs were purpose-written for the film adding to the original numbers in the Broadway show. At one point Effie sings the heart-wrenchingly anguished song, “You’re Gonna Love Me”, surely one of the most emotional singing performances I’ve ever witnessed (and causing a couple of the audience to break into spontaneous applause!). Then Deena sings “Listen”, which has almost the same impact. The performances of the lead women are excellent. Beyoncé Knowles carries Deena from the naïve young girl to the sexy siren, while newcomer Jennifer Hudson has a voice to rival Aretha and acting talent to boot! Eddie Murphy reveals a new side of himself, losing his trademark flippant persona and showing some real depth of emotion as well as doing his own singing, which could well be his next career!  Foxx is terrific as the smooth, opportunistic Curtis

Any film with a truckload of good songs, an authentic recreation of a magic era and a story about people’s dreams and aspirations is sure to be a winner and Dream Girls is all that.




Want more about this film?

search youtube  search wikipedia  

Want something different?

random vintage best worst