By Amy Lamare, May 1, 2007
Adapting a smash Broadway show with an iconic soundtrack is hard enough. Adapting it in such a way that a former nobody is a newly minted Oscar winner – well that is a rare feat indeed. Then, once you’ve accomplished all that-add in a Golden Globe win for Best Picture and box office grosses topping $100 million and you’ve got one singular sensation known as Dreamgirls.
Oh sure, the cheese factor is high, but that is the beauty of the musical -one expects, no, one demands a certain level of cheese. Based on the 1981 Broadway musical rumored to be loosely based on the rise of The Supremes, this flick is a party from the opening note to the closing bars. The producers put all the right ingredients together, stars Beyonce Knowles (BKNOW), Jamie Foxx (JFOXX), Eddie Murphy (EMURP) and newcomer/erstwhile American Idol contestant Jennifer Hudson have the presence and chops (both acting and signing) to bring this story to life, and Oh, let’s bring on the mad genius who adapted 2002’s Chicago for the big screen – Bill Condon -to write and direct.
Was there ever any doubt the producers had a hit on their hands?
Foxx plays Curtis Taylor, a car salesman in Detroit who turns talent manager to exploit; er I mean promote the vocal talents of neighborhood gal Jennifer Hudson, only to push her aside in favor of her skinnier, prettier, infinitely more marketable friend Beyonce. Only, you know, with two hours of story exposition and justification in there before the inevitable happens.
Seriously though, real life history shows that Donna Summer was brought in to replace her heavier, dowdier, childhood friend Florence Ballard. In the real world, it was Barry Gordy, not Jamie Foxx who perpetrated this injustice.
Back in the world of Dreamgirls we have Jennifer, Beyonce and Anika Noni Rose as the Dreams, the backup singers for Eddie Murphy – a soul man in the mold of James Brown who is determined to do it his way-by overuse of girls, drugs and liquor. Foxx, driven to make his singers appeal to a wider (aka white audience) replaces Jennifer with Beyonce, a thinner singer who he marries.
The drama, people, is all over this group of singers and hangers-on and their relationships to and with each other. It makes for one hell of a fun ride. If you haven’t had a chance to experience Dreamgirls, I highly recommend you pick it up when it makes its DVD debut on May 1st. If you’ve already seen it, well then no convincing is necessary, your copy is already ordered, isn’t it?
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