Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Dreamgirls: "This Year's Brokeback Mountain"

That is the way one wag on Rotten Tomatoes describes Dreamgirls, the biopic about the Supremes now playing at your multiplex. The meaning of the odd comparison: It is impolite not to fawn over this film. So, I will dance on the edge of politeness below.

Christmas tradition at the Ruds calls for us to see an opening film that evening after digesting tofurky and all the trimmings. The best for such an outing was Cold Mountain, but The Aviator and The Family Stone have worked well enough too.

Dreamgirls is all surface, not much there intellectually though there is potential of course, especially in the discussion of the music business. Fun to watch for a while, but predictable. It was stunning in the beginning but trudged along toward the end. The best role was that of Eddie Murphy as a James Brown style R&B singer with whom the Dreamettes (later to become the Dreams, get it?) back up to get their start. The film's dramatic power, if you want to call the sonic blasts that, comes from the deposing of Effi, played by Jennifer Hudson, in favor of the slimmer, blander Deena, played by Beyonce Knowles. Jamie Foxx doesn't quite pull off as Curtis, the former auto salesman who becomes the manager and manipulator of the Dreams, and who orchestrates the removal of his former lover, Effi, for the crossover appeal of Deena.

Of course this film will be showered with Oscar nominations, as the Oscars love biopics and predictable rise from the ashes storyline drivel. Jennifer Hudson will be lauded as the next coming of the voice of God, and we can predict that Oprah will have the entire cast on her show at Oscar time.

Those of us in the show I attended last night couldn't contain our titters when there were repeated instances of the stars breaking out into song, especially of the he did me wrong variety. In the car on the way home, we enjoyed breaking into song ourselves, as we warbled about how we needed to eat some more pie, clean the litter box, and so forth.

All in all, though, an appropriate Christmas kind of film, but really indicates how Hollywood just recycles the same narratives, dresses them up with new effects or a different voice. The musical biopic has really run its course for me. I haven't yet seen Walk the Line, but seeing enough trailers gives me the idea, while our DVD of Ray sits unopened.

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