[Screen It]

"DREAMGIRLS"
(2006) (Beyoncé Knowles, Jamie Foxx) (PG-13)

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QUICK TAKE:
Drama/Musical: A Motown-type girl band tries to make it big in the 1960s and '70s and must deal with the repercussions once they do.
PLOT:
It's the 1960s and Effie Melody White (JENNIFER HUDSON), Deena Jones (BEYONCÉ KNOWLES) and Lorrell Robinson (ANIKA NONI ROSE) are the Dreamettes, an all-girl trio trying to make it big in the land of Motown. While Effie's brother Clarence Conrad "C.C." White (KEITH ROBINSON) composes various songs for them and serves as their manager, they have yet to come close to breaking into the big time.

That changes when car dealership owner and aspiring music producer Curtis Taylor Jr. (JAMIE FOXX) approaches them with the idea of backing up popular local singer James "Thunder" Early (EDDIE MURPHY). His notorious reputation precedes him and his old school manager Marty Madison (DANNY GLOVER) isn't happy with Curtis meddling in his affairs, but it isn't long before the girls are touring with James and he's soon having an affair with Lorrell. As does Curtis with Effie, although his interest eventually turns to Deena, who he believes has the look that could propel the trio to stardom.

From that point on, they must deal with the repercussions of that romantic and professional switch, their newfound success, and Curtis micromanaging their careers through the next decade.

OUR TAKE: 6 out of 10
This is a fairly entertaining but not great adaptation of the 1981 Tony award-winning musical of the same name that was loosely inspired by Diana Ross and the Supremes rise to musical ascension in the 1960 and '70s (and previously made as the 1976 musical "Sparkle" with Philip Michael Thomas and Irene Cara).

The film features a strong debut performance by Jennifer Hudson (a former "American Idol" top ten finalist), a career redefining one for Eddie Murphy (in the Little Richard meets James Brown role), and the always radiant Beyoncé Knowles in the Ross type part).

While it's a pleasurable enough if familiar diversion (joining scores of films about bands struggling to make it big and then having to deal with the repercussions of just that), the relatively weak musical numbers (only a few stand out and/or are memorable) prevent the picture from joining the ranks of great Broadway adaptations. More to come soon…




Reviewed November 15, 2006 / Posted December 25, 2006


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