Not Such Dreamy Girls
Last Friday, Mrs. Bartender and I went to see Dreamgirls. While entertaining at times, it is just not a great movie and certainly not close to as goo as the 4 Best Picture nominees we have seen. (If you haven't been keeping score, we have yet to see Babel.) To start with, Jennifer Hudson has been rightly praised for her outstanding performance as Effie. She is the star of the movie, and by far, the most interesting character. The irony, of course, is that just as she is shoved aside for the more beautiful but less talented Deena (Beyonce), her performance is only nominated for Best Supporting Actress and not Best Actress in a Leading Role, which she most certainly is playing. Of course, if she had received the latter nomination, she would not be taking home Oscar, which is what she is going to get to do.
On a side note, is it me or do we now get every year numerous articles complaining about how repetitive acceptance speeches are at the awards shows as the same actors win Gold Globes, SAG Awards, the Cinema Society of Toledo's Golden Calf, etc. before making the same speech Oscar night. I think that just as the actors give the same speech at ceremony after ceremony, the writers just keep re-running these articles year after year. Thus, I expect to hear Jennifer Hudson once again thank American Idol and pay homage to Florence Ballard (the Supreme that Effie is based upon) in Hollywood on February 25.
Eddie Murphy is also quite good and his role truly is supporting. It is a role that I am certainly not surprised Eddie can play, and I wish he would continue to try to expand his range. Does he really need to do Beverly Hills Cop 4? Norbit? I guess he needs to eat.
As for Beyonce, her character is virtually a cipher, used by Berry . . . I mean Curtis Taylor to make the group stars and then for him to get whatever he wants. She is fine in the role, but she lacks the magnetism of Effie. Perhaps that is part of the point (and yes she looks a lot like Diana Ross at times), but she is just not that interesting, nor is the third original dream, Lorrell. There is just not enough time to develop most of the characters in the movie (with the exception of Effie and to a lesser extent Curtis).
Most problematically, the music just isn't great. With a couple of exceptions (Effie's big number--And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going--and perhaps One Night Only), the songs are just not memorable and to the extent they seek to advance the plot, they do so quite weakly. For a musical, this is a fatal flaw.
Finally, one quibble: During one of the numerous montages, it appears that the Dreams are on the Great Wall of China in the mid-1960s. Assuming I am correct, I have news for the makers of this film--no Americans were in China during this period. None. Nada. I don't ask for much, but a little historical accuracy would be nice.