Feature

Dreamgirls

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. Beyoncé 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.'

Rating: PG-13

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