VOD film review: Dreamgirls
Ivan Radford | On 13, Jan 2016
Director: Bill Condon
Cast: Jennifer Hudson, Eddie Murphy, Beyonce Knowles
Watch Dreamgirls online in the UK: Sky Cinema / NOW TV / iTunes / Prime Video (Buy/Rent) / Rakuten TV / Google Play / Sky Store
The microphone descends. The curtains rise. A drumbeat starts, and the lights go up on “The Dreamettes” as they enter the world of showbiz. But, unbeknownst to them, suave manager Curtis Taylor Jr. (Jamie Foxx) has plans for the three singers, and they go beyond being the backers for Jimmy “Thunder” Early (Eddie Murphy). Curtis wants to make them stars. His one condition? Lose Effie. “The fat one.”
Jennifer Hudson (former American Idol finalist) plays the lead role of Effie, cast aside for someone supposedly more marketing-friendly. Impressively, Hudson shows that not only can she sing, she can act too, reacting to deception and manipulation in the same way as anyone else in this movie: by singing. With such a powerhouse performance, it’d be easy to overlook the rest of the cast – Beyoncé blends into the background brilliantly with a generous supporting turn, while Jamie Foxx’s Curtis Taylor Jr. doesn’t amount to more than a resentable figure who never really engages with anyone.
But not so Eddie Murphy. He bursts into song – and at one point out of his clothes – as Jimmy Early, a lightning bolt of charisma, filling up the screen with his every move. In a turn worthy of an Oscar, Eddie effortlessly brings his character to life.
The talented ensemble is brought together with flare by Bill Condon (who formerly adapted Chicago for the screen). He nails the tone of the stage musical right on the head, carefully balancing theatrics and realism. With increasingly dazzling dresses, and gradually growing wigs, Dreamgirls perfectly captures the look of the time, not to mention the sound of the Supremes-inspired trio. The result gets your toes tapping with an infectious soundtrack and sumptuous visuals, forcing you to follow Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye’s Green Cross Code-esque hit 1974 single to the letter: Stop. Look. Listen.
Dreamgirls is available on Sky Cinema. Don’t have Sky? You can also stream it on NOW TV, as part of an £11.99 Sky Cinema Month Pass subscription. It is also available to watch online on Amazon Prime Video as part of a Prime membership or a £5.99 monthly subscription.