Saturday, December 30, 2006

Pleasant 'Dreams'

Michael and I saw "Dreamgirls" on my day off. I should start by risking my gay card admitting that even though I'm the exact right age to have been a gay boy obsessed with the Broadway soundtrack (I was 14 when the show came out, after all), I'd actually never seen or heard much about it. Being a huge Supremes fan, however, I was aware that the play was loosely based on their story.

Judging the film adaptation on its own merits, I would say "Dreamgirls" is an enjoyable trip to the movies -- neither a nightmare nor a dream come true. The cast looks fantastic (those costumes -- those wigs!) and the "why is she getting all the attention" storyline is juicy and compelling -- and plays very well as a film. But it did strike me as a tad bit ironic that the weakest part of the movie was actually the music. Each time the stars would launch into a song (this is a musical, sort of, after all), the entire pace and flow of the film came to a screeching halt. And while it could be argued that this is just the way musicals work, the even more surprising thing was that there wasn't a single song by "girl group" The Dreams that sounded anything like a real 1960s Motown hit. Shouldn't we be in love with this fabled girl group and all of their pop confections? Tom Hanks was able to write hire someone to write the wonderfully Beatles-y "That Thing You Do" for his movie band The Wonders -- and even Julie Brown came up with a handful of perfect songs for her Madonna parody "Medusa: Dare to Be Truthful" ("Party in My Pants" not only conjures up early Madonna, it's kind of better!) -- so I just felt like I would have been more in love with the film if I was more in love with the music.

Bottom line: The story and the girls are fun -- and if you can handle two hours of Jamie Foxx's capped buck teeth, then you'll be just fine.

11 comments:

Mark said...

Well, if you can sit through a movie with Eddie Murphy and Jamie Foxx, I guess I can try ;)

Ivskn said...

I felt your comments about the music were right on. I did enjoy the musical numbers when they were being presented as performances on stage, but the music/dialogue as part of scenes was very jarring. And overall, just mediocre music with poor lyrics. It wasn't even good for Broadway. However, the movie, as a whole, was not an unpleasant experience.

Anonymous said...

Just so you know, your gay card has been revoked. Proceed to the nearest female entity and make love to her on the spot! ;-) The original Broadway Musical was GREAT, and so was the movie. While I agree with your assessment that it was not the film of the year, I loved Eddie Murphy's character and Jennifer Hudson gave one of the finest and most dramatic musical performances in decades. Her songs alone made the film worthwhile. And, given that the broadway show won numerous Tony Awards, saying, as ivskn did, that the music wasn't even good for Broadway is just silly.

Anonymous said...

Interesting to note that this movie is making the "year's best" list of absolutely no one. ;-)

The Slabber,
dailyslab.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

I saw the broadway show & the only reason for me yo see it was>>> Jennifer Holiday!....she was the show!..so I guess my "gay card" is also revoked...I just didn't see what all the hoopla was about this show....will not go to see the movie, no matter how much Oprah pushes it :-)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sq4uc9b2s1o

Anonymous said...

Dreamgirls RULES - and YES, there ARE many positive reviews. Jennifer Holiday was GREAT (I saw the original show, too), but she is no Jennifer Hudson (or even Beyonce).

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/taylor-marsh/dreamgirls-soars_b_37565.html

Dale R said...

with all the prepress, I thought there was no way jennifer hudson's performance could live up to the hype of I'm telling you I'm not going. but I was NOT disappointed: I was tingling. amd when she sang I am changing, I was completely blowed away. I never saw the original broadway show so I wasn't sure what to expect, but I will no longer think of jennifer hudson as an american idol reject. to me she's an oscar worthy actress who can SANG and I look forward to great things from her. PS. kelly clarkson ROCKS!

Anonymous said...

I really liked it, but the one thing I didn't get, is why Beyonce's character was all of a sudden practically a saint at the end of the movie.

Anonymous said...

Kenneth you got it right. Here in toronto the audience was of course timid as compared to american audiences. Back in 82 when in lived in NYC, more than a dozen times I saw Dreamgirls and Jennifer Hudson just can't hold a candle to her. What really irritated me about the film was there was no emotion ripping open their faces. It was like she was Diana Krall as compared to Betty Cater. Girl open your damn mouth and sing! Some of my best memories was of being in the balcony at the Imperial where black american queens from philly to the bronx would be getting down, dancing and singing. it was an experience just to be in the audience and then there was jennifer holiday, you never failed to bawl, not just lose tears, just ball. her voice's power possessed you, raped you, devastated, you filled you up, it was as good to great sex as you could get, damn. and god only knows, sheryl lee ralph portrayed a jamaican spirited character not the ditz on screen. it's always as if the others in the group had to be toned down not to outdo beyonce, who looked so diana ross in that black hat which was made by milliner frederick jones who was a fierce-assed diva who actually spat in grace jones' face when the bitch wore his famous umbrella hat to the 1983 grammies than credited it to ysl? and you just know that that was one pissed off black diva, frederick that is.

it was a great time, you should have made it even though you were only fourteen; which gay person at 14 doesn't know that they already are. it was a great time, from phyllis hymann in sophisticated ladies to raul julia in NINE, lord was a drop-dead stunning!

i'm sure i would have enjoyed it more if i were to have seen it with a nyc audience, as god only knows americans are more likely to get lost vicariously in their movie-going experiences than are canadians.

it's a damn good film otherwise, but the singing was too reined in, and god woman, rip open your face and sang!

CPT_Doom said...

Just for the record, Tom Hanks did not write "That Thing You Do," Adam Schlesinger, of the band Fountains of Wayne (and with whom I attended college) wrote that amazing song, and was cruelly robbed of an Oscar, IMHO.

Oh, and I saw the movie last weekend and loved it - although I think Ken is right that the weaknesses in the movie were all weaknesses in the show, but it was still worth the $7.50

Kenneth M. Walsh said...

CPT_Doom --
You're right. Thanks for that clarification! Hanks wrote the film, not the song.

Adam Schlesinger is also a member of one of my fave bands Ivy ...
kw

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