Saturday, January 13, 2007

Movie Report: Dreamgirls

I seldom like movie musicals, but I was willing to give Dreamgirls a chance. After all, it had Beyonce in it, so how bad could it be? I had low expectations for the movie, and I have to report they were met.

Beyonce, I can report, is very lovely, and is displayed to good advantage, mostly in the last half of the movie. Don't go to the movie if you like the Motown sound and expect to hear Supremes-inspired singing. This is Motown by way of Broadway, which is to say it's not Motown at all. It's something else; I'm not sure what, well, I guess, "Broadway, as interpreted by Hollywood," best describes it. Broadway is fine for telling the story of Dolly Levi, but the tale of Diana Ross loses any authenticity when it is interpreted through production numbers.

In fairness, Dreamgirls does not pretend to be a biopic of The Supremes. It's just that in a movie about three black women who start singing gospel in Detroit and whose career is taken over by a shrewd operator who creates a distinctive sound and eventually takes them to Hollywood, one naturally thinks first of the group to whom this actually happened. But it's easy to soon forget about the Supremes as this group, the Dreamgirls, sing songs composed in Tinpan Alley, not Gratiot Street.

Eddie Murphy does a reprise of a Saturday Night Live character in his role as James "Thunder" Early. That is to say he plays a black singer who has some characteristics of James Brown, Wilson Pickett, Luther Vandross and others, but he plays the character essentially for laughs, with a toothy grin that never fades. Jamie Foxx got a lot of kudos for his portrayal of Ray Charles in Ray, but I didn't think he really got into the Berry Gordy character in Dreamgirls unless Gordy was essentially without emotion.

I wouldn't call this a "bad" movie, it just wasn't a "good" movie. I gave it two out of five stars. My companion thought it was worth three stars.


nemesis said...

You are two/fifths gay.

Amishlaw said...

I know who you are, nemesis. I think you wrote your comment because you claim that I once said that only gays like musicals. I never said that. You promised not to read any more of my movie reports, so why do you keep torturing yourself? I guess the question now is which two/fifths of me is gay. I'm pretty sure it's not my head, my heart, my soul or my genitals. I won't vouch for my elbows, knees or shoulders.