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The Mass Media

Dreamgirls: An Interlude to a Might-be Nightmare

Photo courtsy of Dreamworks
Photo courtsy of Dreamworks

Remember that song that Will Smith sang to Uncle Phil on the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air? Well, this song has become famous thanks to the original singer, Jennifer Holliday, and they it in “Dreamgirls.” Originally a Broadway musical directed by Michael Bennett, this play is now being adapted into a film, starring Jamie Foxx, former American Idol contestant Jennifer Hudson, and Tony Award winner Anika Noni Rose…oh, yeah, and Beyonce Knowles, too.

Ok, I’m not a big fan of Beyonce, and I can’t think about the good points of this movie when she is in it. But I have to say some things about her. Mean things. Really mean things.

This film is set in the early 1960s and 70s, and it follows the rise of a wannabe singing group called the Dreamettes, played by Hudson, Rose, and Knowles. During a competition, the Dreamettes are discovered by Curtis Taylor, Jr. (Jamie Foxx) who offers them to sing backup to James “Thunder” Early (Eddie Murphy) on his tour. Eventually the group grabs their own spotlight, thanks to Taylor, as The Dreams. As the group become stars, the spotlight goes to one of the girls, and we all know who it is. Anika Noni Rose? I hope so.

As Deena’s (Beyonce Knowles) star increases, Effie (Jennifer Hudson), the leader and creator of the Dreams, takes a backseat to Deena’s fame. When they become much more famous, the price of fame becomes higher than the girls had ever imagined.

One difference between the play and the movie is that many songs have been cut out and replaced with new songs, which is a bit disappointing since the formula was just fine before. This is evident by all the TONYS it won. Also, in the play Effie was the love interest of Taylor but in the film Deena is pursued by Taylor.

Ok, let’s get down to the punches. I swear, this sounds like Destiny’s Child’s career. What shameless way to give Beyonce the spotlight, especially since Jennifer Hudson, the better singer, has more power. But since she didn’t win American Idol and by Hollywood’s standards is obese, she may not be the draw. I didn’t really see Anika Noni Rose during the trailer either, so she might be just that third member no one remembers (and in the music biz, there is always that one person in a group we always forget). Rose plays the part of Lorrell, who has an affair with a married man named Early. Rose, being the one who has the most Broadway performance, might be able to outshine all the actors. I have to be on the fence about this film though, because of the similarities between Beyonce’s personal story and the emulation of the Supremes’s career. It is creepy due to the fact that this is how her solo career got started. Even though this is based on the Supremes, this can also deviate towards Destiny’s Child. Also, I think Jamie Foxx and Eddie Murphy’s roles should be reversed, since Jamie is a better singer than Eddie is. And Eddie would crank out a more believable performance as Curtis Taylor, but I don’t know how that can improve the movie. And finally, the film focuses more on singing than the plot. I have a couple predictions, though – I think the success of the film will be based on how much the film stays true to the play. After all, the guy who did the film based on the play “Chicago” did really well. Beyonce fans will love it (no surprise there) but I will have a more detailed critique when it comes out at Christmas 2006.