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Published on June 21st, 2008 | by simeon



The rise of Motown records is one of the music industries greatest tales. Berry Gordy Jr. in 1959 established the record label that not only made stars of numerous talents such as Diana Ross and the Supremes and the Jackson 5, but helped African American talents finds success in other markets and mainstream radio.

In the film Dreamgirls, Director/Screenwriter Bill Condon brings the book and musical of the same name to the big screen with style and energy, and tells an inspired and entertaining story.

Though the names have been changed, it does not take much effort to discover that many parts in the film are indeed based upon actual people, and situations, which only ads to the story and characters, as though seeing a work of fiction, there is some factual basis to what is being shown.

Beyonce’ Knowles stars as Deena Jones, who is the lead singer in a female trio who hope to get noticed at a local talent show. While the group fails to win, they do attract the attention of Curtis Taylor Jr. (Jaime Foxx), a local manager who runs a car dealership during the day.

Curtis takes the girls under his management and soon begins a relationship with Effie, (Jennifer Hudson), as the band begins to get notice. Curtis uses bribes to get the girls played on white radio stations and soon has a hit on his hands and forms his own record label in order for his talent.

While on tour with R&B legend James Thunder Early (Eddie Murphy), the decision is made to make Deena sing lead over Effie which leads to tensions in the band despite their growing success.

What follows is a tale full of love, loss, success, failure, redemption, and laughs as the dynamic tale of the girls and their career is told over the passage of several years.

While much has been made of the singing of Beyonce’ and Jennifer Hudson, Eddie Murphy was clearly the star of the film as he brought a dynamic energy to the film whenever he was on screen. Murphy amazingly blended comedy and music as he performed his own material as well as generated sympathy as the troubled singer, who is trying to hold onto fleeting fame amongst changing times and gives and Oscar worthy performance.

The songs of the film are very well done, though at times, some of them dragged on to long for my taste, and at times hampered the narrative portion of the film.

That being said, Dreamgirls is one of the best musical to hit the screen and if for no reason other than Murphy’s performance is must see film.

3.5 stars out of 5.

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