Director Bill Condon
Starring Jamie Foxx, Beyonce Knowles, Jennifer Hudson, Eddie Murphy
The award-winning ‘80s musical – a loosely inspired facsimile of the rise to fame, fortune and acrimony for Diana Ross and the Supremes – hits the big screen as a pushy Oscar hunter. Despite flashy production design and charismatic cast, Dreamgirls is like sitting down to a three-course meal of candyfloss – tasty and eye-popping at first but ultimately lacking any substance. Beyonce plays Deena, the svelte, pliable member of girl group The Dreamettes, who start out ’60s backing singers before becoming ’70s superstars. But Beyonce plays her like Bambi; unlike the group’s fiery leader Effie (former US Pop Idol runner-up Jennifer Hudson), whose pipes could peel paint but who, as the stroppy, heffalump-sized member of the group, gets shoved aside.
Just your typical music-biz melodrama then, complete with conniving manager (Jamie Foxx) and big star on a downward spiral (Eddie Murphy). But Dreamgirls’ Motown pastiches are mostly plastic and forgettable, while writer-director Bill (Chicago) Condon loses himself in the razzle dazzle. Shame for Beyonce, too: she’s been patiently seeking her breakout movie role but here Deena’s bland passivity lets Hudson walk off the star.