A Motown girl group shoots to stardom, then falls apart.
Bill Condon may single-handedly save the movie musical, said Kenneth Turan in the Los Angeles Times. The scriptwriter behind Chicago has now adapted Michael Bennett's 1981 Broadway show about a Motown girl group into a moving exploration of black culture in the late 1960s. Jamie Foxx roguishly embodies the Machiavellian manager who rescues the Dreamettes from oblivion, sending them on tour with a James Brown'“esque soul singer played by Eddie Murphy in 'œthe most fully rounded performance of his career.' But the inexperienced female leads are the real stars, said Owen Gleiberman in Entertainment Weekly. BeyoncÃ© Knowles goes against type as the demure Deena, a backup singer transformed into a superstar, while Jennifer Hudson is shattering as Effie, the original lead singer shoved aside to make way for Deena. In her film debut, this former American Idol contestant delivers a climactic showstopper that's 'œas grandly shattering a piece of musical acting as the movies have seen since Judy Garland' in A Star Is Born. Her astonishing performance almost makes you overlook Dreamgirls' major flaw, said A.O. Scott in The New York Times. You can't have a great musical without decent tunes. 'œNot just musically and lyrically pedestrian but historically and idiomatically disastrous,' Henry Krieger and Tom Eyen's songs don't even sound like Motown. That's why, despite its meticulously stage-managed re-creation of a lost era, 'œwhat this movie most obviously lacks is soul.'