Tuesday 18th January 2022

Dreamgirls (12A)
Directed by: Bill Condon
Reviewed by: Paul Fonz

The last film I reviewed that was adapted from a Broadway show was The History Boys, which was very good indeed. This film, however, is a very different animal altogether. Following the success of Chicago, Ray and Walk The Line it's no surprise that we are getting another musical/biopic inflicted on us. Dreamgirls is an ensemble piece featuring Jamie Foxx, Beyoncé Knowles, Eddie Murphy, Danny Glover and the superb newcomer Jennifer Hudson, in what is essentially the story of Diana Ross and The Supremes.

Eddie Murphy is not playing James Brown. Honest.
Eddie Murphy is not playing James Brown. Honest.

This is the sort of musical that we just don't see in cinemas very often anymore – the kind Disney make where people burst in to song about anything and everything at the drop of a hat. The songs are numerous, twee and cheesy, although they do get more powerful and mature as the film goes on. Unfortunately, this constant need to sing about everything really doesn't work for me. It quickly gets to the stage in this film where there are barely three lines of dialogue spoken between musical pieces, which seem to serve merely as a way to pad out the paper thin and predictable plot.

Possibly more annoying than the people singing in each other's faces all the time, though, is the gratuitous use of montage, which comes across as both a way to squeeze more songs in and a lazy way of not having to rely on dialogue or events to advance the characters and the story.

The cast, however, is strong and performs well, especially Jennifer Hudson as the most talented singer of the group, who gets pushed out for not being good-looking enough. That girl has got a seriously impressive set of pipes on her and I think it's pretty brave of Beyoncé to play opposite someone who is clearly a better singer.

Dreamgirls is already up for a host of awards, including some Oscars, but for the most part they are music and costume based, with some well deserved nods for Hudson and Murphy in supporting roles. It speaks volumes, however, that there is a noticeable lack of nominations for best screenplay, director or film.

The film does at least have a nice look and a fairly unreal feel to it, and there are some interesting and enjoyable things to watch out for. The end credits, for example, are very well put together, although possibly I was just experiencing a kind of euphoria for having made it to the end of a film that is lacking in depth and substance. In short, this one simply doesn't do enough to make it enjoyable or worth watching, although some of the Dirty Dancing crowd may still treat it as a guilty pleasure.

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Length: 131 minutes
Certificate: 12A
Official Site:
IMDB Link:
Release Date: 2nd February 2007

Top Five Rating: 50.0%50.0%50.0%50.0%50.0%50.0%50.0%50.0%50.0%50.0% (50.0%)
User Rating: 80.0%80.0%80.0%80.0%80.0%80.0%80.0%80.0%80.0%80.0% (80.0%)

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