Dream Girls (2006)

Rated PG-13. Our ratings: V-1; L- 3; S/N-4. Running time: 2 hours 11 min.

With many dreams come vanities and
a multitude of words; but fear God.
Ecclesiastes 5:7

Bill Condon, screen adapter of Chicago wrote and directed this adaptation of Tom Eyen and Henry Krieger Broadway musical. However, it is Jennifer Hudson as big-voice Effie whose name audiences will remember, and undoubtedly long to see and hear again. Although many audiences at advance screenings applaud a film at the end, this is the first time that I have seen an audience applaud midway through a film, but then few have ever delivered a song with such heart-felt gusto as Miss Hudson does with the showstopper “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.” Without consciously trying, Jennifer Hudson upstages the other members of the group billing themselves as the Dreamettes, Beyonce Knowles (as Deena) and Anika Noni Rose (as Lorrell)—and these two are by no means lacking in singing ability!

Dream Girls

Very loosely based on the story of Dianna Ross and the Supremes, the film opens with the three singers competing in a Chicago amateur talent show that is rigged. However, their disappointment is short-lived because Curtis Taylor, Jr. (Jamie Foxx) offers them a job of singing backup for singer James “Thunder” Early (Eddie Murphy). Effie at first refuses to lower her ambition and become a backup, but the other two convince her, and soon their careers are rising, along with their romantic entanglements with Curtis and Jimmy. Marty (Danny Glover) has been Jimmy “Thunder’s” manager, but the more imaginative and aggressive Curtis gradually gains ascendancy. Curtis shows how ruthless he can be when the girls become their own act, and he replaces the full-bodied Effie with a slimmer woman because he thinks three slim girls will have more audience appeal. (This is the point in the film in which Effie bursts forth with “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.” )

At times the musical is like an opera in that the characters will answer one another in song. None of the numbers seems to be stuck in, each advancing the plot or encapsulating the inner thoughts and tumultuous feelings of the character. Serving as a morality play as to what happens to the human soul when success replaces friendship and manipulation is regarded as an acceptable business practice, Dream Girls is more than just powerful entertainment.