Monday, November 27, 2006

Dreamgirls

The way to showbiz stardom is not winning a reality show, it’s becoming a runner up. With the release of DREAMGIRLS, Jennifer Hudson’s career will skyrocket past Fantasia’s. Fellow loser, Diana DeGarmo has a nifty Broadway career and will probably eclipse Fantasia too. (Fantasia’s already done the MOW on her life. That’s usually the last stop until Disney on Ice). Meanwhile, Ruben Studdard is eating Clay Aiken’s dust (even with the bad haircut).

And it’s not just AMERICAN IDOL contestants. SURVIVOR winner, Richard Hatch is rotting in jail while runner-up, Elisabeth Hasselbeck is a co-host on THE VIEW (although in this case, I’d rather be Richard).

But of all these close-but-no-cigar players, none will take off like Jennifer Hudson when DREAMGIRLS is released. Her performance was nothing short of mind blowing. I know Jennifer Holiday wowed ‘em on Broadway in this role, but when Hudson (it’s hard to keep my Jennifer H’s straight) sings the big show stopping number it’s as thrilling an experience as you are likely to have in a movie this year. The audience cheered loudly, which is always odd to me because you’re cheering at a screen. Jennifer can’t hear you, folks!!

The movie itself was terrific. When Dreamworks was hyping it with teasers in the theaters a year ago even before they shot one foot of film, I was leery. Recent memories of the giant misfires that were RENT and THE PRODUCERS danced through my head. But writer/director, Bill Condon really pulled it off. DREAMGIRLS is the Supremes meet CHICAGO. It has Oscar written all over it, unless the movie is a bomb and then it’s like “what the hell were they thinking?’ But I got a feeling the movie will be a hit. It’s a little long (I make that complaint so often these days I should just get a stamp), but vibrant and visually exciting throughout. I imagine even the coveted “youth market” will go for this film because a lot of the songs are those Whitney Houston type big belting “Believe in yourself, Follow your dream, The only way I can be me for you is to be me for me” numbers. And Beyonce. Hard to imagine Beyonce not being the best singer in the movie, but even as number two she kicks ass. And she looks scrumptious. Diana Ross never looked that good even in her prime and with all the air brushing in the world.

The third girl, Anika Noni Rose, was also great but so overshadowed by the other two I don’t think even her parents noticed she was in the movie.

Jaimie Foxx played the part Billy D. Williams would have played twenty years ago. Loretta Devine, one of the original DREAMGIRLS, had a small part, a nice nod to the Broadway production. And John Cenatiempo as Thug #1 gave his usual solid performance.

But the real pleasant surprise was Eddie Murphy. Even if this movie sells only three tickets he will get an Oscar nomination, and probably a win. Not only is his acting superb and comic timing impeccable, but Jesus, he can really SING. Think Marvin Gaye before his father shot him. You watch him in DREAMGIRLS and say, “Eddie, what the hell are you doing wasting your talent prancing around in fat suits doing fart jokes?”

The movie musical is once again alive. And if Hollywood wants to do a big screen version of JERSEY BOYS, the story of the Four Seasons, might I suggest casting Bo Bice, Boston Rob, Chris Daughtry, and Johnny Fairplay.

17 comments:

Diane said...

Wow - I wouldn't have been inclined to see this movie, but may do so now. And if Eddie can really sing, he needs to shoot everybody who could have (and should have) put a stop to "Party all the Time"

R.A. Porter said...

I thought Eddie vs Stevie on SNL should have cemented the place of his voice in history. That man can sing.

Anonymous said...

The producer of this film came to my class at USC just before shooting was about to start. He had started in New York theater many years ago and this was clearly his dream project. Nice to hear it turned out so well.

Some Guy said...

Wow, first Oprah and now you, (and frankly I'm more inclined to believe you) I may have to go see Dreamgirls.

I don't generally seek out musicals, but I really enjoyed Chicago so I'm willing to risk seeing another one.

I think Ken Russell almost single handedly killed the genre with Tommy . Has there ever been a more poorly executed musical? (Well excluding Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band?

(Another gem from the era of is Head ; a mostly unwatchable acid trip featuring The Monkees and written by Jack Nicholson and Bob Rafelson.

Emily Blake said...

I've often said Eddie was just a man ahead of his time. There were so many naysayers, but the truth is, my girl DOES want to party all the time. It's like he was reading my mind with that melodious tune. It's about time people accepted his genius.

Anonymous said...

I've often said Eddie was just a man ahead of his time. There were so many naysayers, but the truth is, my girl DOES want to party all the time.

Of course after his little incident in West Hollywood there is some question as to which girls he was referring to.

Tommy said...

I have to admit, I thought The Producers was brilliant!

Dan Coyle said...

I always thought Murphy was a good singer; it's just his choice of material was questionable. REALLY questionable.

maven said...

I can't wait to see this movie! The trailer is great, and the movie sounds even better. I think it's going to be a big hit.

Health Insurance said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Ken Levine said...

Had to delete some comments that were basically spam directing you to health insurance sites. They added very little to the conversation.

Ben said...

So where am I supposed to go for advice about health insurance?

Thanks a lot, Ken.

Caroline said...

I saw Dreamgirls on Broadway and loved it, but I am predisposed to the musical genre.

Even occasional theatre-goers will like it if they've done a good job of it. I will definitely be going to see it ... the music is fantastic.

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to see this movie if only to see Eddie, Jennifer and Thug #1...btw is there a Thug #2?

Miles said...

Marvin Gaye was definitely a better singer before his dad shot himn. That's for sure.

Dhppy said...

I can't imagine being surprised by Eddie Murphy. On SNL he always had some great singing moments as well as the ability to flip a genius switch and turn out classic performances when he was in the mood.

I am not Star Jones said...

I can't wait until the Oscar noms are announced.
Eddie and Jennifer Hudson yes; Beyonce was good but she's definitely not the standout in the movie.