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Dividing the world through "Dreamgirls"

Posted at 10:37 AM on December 25, 2006 by Euan Kerr

You can divide people in many ways: earlobes/earlobeless, smoke/don't smoke, innies or outies. Another simple way is to ask: do you like musicals?

The woman sitting behind me at "Dreamgirls" who uttered an expletive every time one of the divas took a deep breath and began to sing, was clearly in the 'no' camp.

And there's a lot of singing in "Dreamgirls." As the fictionalized story based on the story of the Supremes, there has to be. We see the young and naive songbirds leap into showbusiness and then experience the highs and the lows as they travel through the treacherous terrain of the music world.

I am with the lady in the row behind, although without the sweary words.

Don't get me wrong, I love the way music and especially songs can take a film and lift it to new heights. There are also some amazing singers in "Dreamgirls." Jennifer Hudson is amazing as Effie, the 'Dreamette' who loses out because she doesn't fit the right image. Hudson can blast out a song to beat the band. Beyonce Knowles kicks it out too as Deena, the Diana Ross character. You can get a sample or two on the "Dreamgirls" site

And then there are the guys. Eddie Murphy puts in his best performance in years as R'n'B singer James 'Thunder' Early. It's good to see him back on form. Jamie Foxx has the tough assignment of playing the Berry Gordy character: smart, controlling, and all too human. He plays it well, but it's a tough place to shine.

But there is a point though where the narrative becomes repeatedly embedded in a song and things get bogged down. "Dreamgirls" crosses the line. This is a musical which relies on spectacle, not great songs, and more often than not I wanted to move on to the next spectacle, or at least more

The rest of the world is going to love this film. I think I'd rather just listen to the Supremes.

December 2006
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