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Bill Condon
Jamie Foxx, Beyoncé Knowles, Eddie Murphy, Danny Glover, Jennifer Hudson
Writing Credits:
Bill Condon

A trio of female soul singers cross over to the pop charts in the early 1960s and face their own personal struggles along the way.

Box Office:
$70 million.
Opening Weekend
$378,950 on 3 screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG-13

Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
English DTS-X
Spanish Dolby 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
Japanese Dolby 5.1
English DTS Headphone X
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 130 min. (Theatrical)
140 min. (Extended)
Price: $16.99
Release Date: 10/10/17

• Both Theatrical and Extended Cuts
• Jennifer Hudson Auditions and Screen Test
• Booklet


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Dreamgirls: Director's Extended Edition [Blu-Ray] (2006)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (October 15, 2017)

With 2006’s Dreamgirls, the movie musical showed life for the first time since 2002’s smash hit Chicago. While the $103 million take of Dreamgirls didn’t compete with the $172 million earned by Chicago, it certainly looked pretty good.

This seems especially true compared with then-contemporary flops like Rent, The Producers and The Phantom of the Opera. Since many critics liked Dreamgirls as well, it looked like the flick could emulate Chicago’s Oscar success.

Alas, that wasn’t to be. Yes, Dreamgirls’ eight nominations led the 2006 pack, but three of those were for songs, and it won only two awards: Jennifer Hudson took home the Best Supporting Actress trophy, and the movie also got Best Achievement in Sound Mixing. Dreamgirls failed to get a nod in the Best Picture category and generally found disappointment on Oscar night.

Although Dreamgirls may not have lived up to all expectations, I think the end result offers a generally winning experience. Based semi-loosely on the real-life story of the Supremes, Dreamgirls takes us to Detroit in the early 1960s to meet an amateur singing group called the Dreamettes.

Big-voiced Effie White (Hudson) takes the lead, while Deena Jones (Beyonce Knowles) and Lorrell Robinson (Anika Noni Rose) handle the backup vocals. Local car dealer Curtis Taylor (Jamie Foxx) sees them in a amateur contest and thinks they possess the talent to break through to the big time.

In the meantime, they need to rise through the ranks, and they get their professional start as backing vocalists for R&B singer James “Thunder” Early (Eddie Murphy). This takes them on the road and gets them started in the business.

Eventually Curtis renames the group “The Dreams” and launches them as an act in their own right. In this transition, he decides to make Deena the focus of the trio, for she may lack Effie’s vocal power but she offers a more appealing presence as a front woman. The movie follows the professional and personal ups and downs experienced by the women and those close to them.

Am I the only one who thinks Dreamgirls would work better if it didn’t attempt to tell the tale of the Supremes? On one hand, that makes the story a little more provocative, but I think it causes more distractions than it needs.

As I watched the flick, I constantly tried to connect the movie’s fictionalized events with real-life occurrences, and that made it tough to concentrate on the plot and characters. If the picture went with a more generalized look at a Motown-style group and wasn’t so obviously based on the Supremes, I think it’d be a more involving effort.

Once we get past those distractions, though, Dreamgirls presents an effective and entertaining flick. I’ve often referred to my general dislike of musicals, but this one manages to avoid many of the usual pitfalls.

One positive comes from the movie’s use of its musical numbers, as it only occasionally presents the contrived notion in which characters sing their dialogue. Most of the time Dreamgirls presents its tunes via live or studio performances by the characters.

The film doesn’t just take us to the stage in an ordinary way, though, as it integrates the songs with montages and other action. I very much like the fact that Dreamgirls doesn’t often stop the action to make the participants sing their thoughts, so the tunes flow more smoothly and work well.

This factor allows Dreamgirls to move pretty well most of the time. The first half goes especially well, as it speeds ahead quickly and wraps us up in the world of the Dreams. We get involved in the characters and the settings, and we enjoy the ride we take.

Once Effie becomes a problem and leaves the group, however, the movie loses steam. Much of that comes from the absence of tension, as the natural sense of conflict – both romantic and professional – that occurs with Effie in the group creates much of the film’s drama. With her out of the loop, the movie droops and tends to meander toward its conclusion.

The other issue comes from the lackluster nature of the Deena character. She never develops into much of a personality, a factor that relates both to the role as written and as performed by Knowles.

Some of this may be intentional, and one could possibly interpret it as a slap at Diana Ross. Perhaps Dreamgirls intends to demonstrate that she always should have stayed in the background and never have become the star.

I wouldn’t agree with that thesis, as no one enjoys such a long, successful career without very clear mass appeal and talent. I don’t think the movie’s portrait of Deena/Diana as something of a cipher is an accurate one.

Perhaps I shouldn’t blame the script and I should pin the criticism on Knowles. She offers a lovely presence and doesn’t embarrass herself in the role, but she lacks much heft in the part.

Knowles does fine during the first half, as the flick concentrates more on Effie and Curtis during that span, but once Deena becomes more of the focus, Knowles doesn’t carry matters well. Her lackluster performance means that the movie drags in its third act.

Dreamgirls also loses points due to a distant turn from Foxx. Cast in the Berry Gordy role, Foxx never quite connects with the part. He conducts himself as aloof and imperious without any heart or real personality.

As with Deena, perhaps this was intentional and meant as a commentary on Gordy himself, but it doesn’t work very well for the movie. Foxx simply doesn’t seem to involve himself in the role, so he often looks a bit distracted, like he’s mentally working on another film.

As I mentioned already, Hudson won an Oscar as Effie. While I don’t know if I believe she truly deserved it, I won’t clearly say that she didn’t, either. I didn’t feel tremendously impressed by her acting chops, as I think she seems a little forced at times.

Nonetheless, Hudson inhabits the role with reasonable effectiveness and has the right voice for it. She does what she needs to do for this pivotal part.

Murphy didn’t win an Oscar as Early, but he deserved one. Many will blame the release of the execrable Norbit smack in the middle of Oscar voting season for Murphy’s loss, and that may be the case.

If so, that’s a shame, as the voters shouldn’t have allowed one role to affect their judgment of another. Murphy proves sensational as Early in arguably the best work he’s committed to film.

During the movie’s first act, we can overlook Murphy’s gifts, as he basically comes across as “Eddie being Eddie”. Those portions cast him fully in James Brown impersonation mode. Actually, that’s a little unfair, as Murphy’s early shows more depth than simple mimicry, but those elements of the part don’t force him to demonstrate much beyond what we’ve seen from him in comedic roles.

However, as the movie progresses, Murphy brings out more from the part. Early experiences professional and personal ups and downs that Murphy conveys with real dimensionality. He doesn’t stick to stock mannerisms.

Instead, Murphy turns Early into a rich, full character who offers the most interesting and involving part of the flick. While I think Alan Arkin is a fine actor, there’s no way his one-dimensional shtick as the drug-using grandpa in Little Miss Sunshine merited an Oscar victory over Murphy’s work here.

Otherwise, Dreamgirls probably got the Oscar consideration it deserved. Entertaining but flawed, it keeps us interested for much of its running time, though it loses us somewhat during the third act. This is a better than average movie musical but not one that I’d consider to be a classic.

The Disc Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B+/ Bonus D+

Dreamgirls appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.35:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Overall, this became a quality presentation.

Sharpness worked well, as the movie consistently exhibited solid delineation. Virtually no signs of softness marred the image, so it stayed tight and accurate. No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects materialized, and both edge haloes and source flaws remained absent through this clean presentation.

The palette of Dreamgirls favored warm oranges, browns and similar tones. These complimented the dark-skinned actors and provided a lush setting for the film, so the colors seemed full and dynamic.

Blacks were deep and dense, while shadows appeared clear and well-defined. Everything about the image succeeded.

I also felt pleased with the DTS-X soundtrack of Dreamgirls. Downconverted to DTS-HD MA 7.1, it should come as no surprise that music dominated the affair.

The many, many songs displayed strong stereo imaging and opened up well to the rears. The whole spectrum delivered the music in an involving, immersive manner.

Effects played a smaller role, but they seemed well placed and appropriate. Crowd noise helped put us in the live settings, and other elements worked fine as well. This wasn’t a terribly ambitious soundscape, but it succeeded for what it needed to do.

Audio quality excelled. Of course, music remained the most aspect of the track, and the mix rendered these elements well. The songs and score were warm and dynamic throughout the movie, with clean highs and deep lows.

Speech was natural and concise, while effects appeared accurate and clean. All in all, I felt pleased by this satisfying soundtrack.

How did the 2017 Blu-ray compare to the original 2007 version? Audio received a boost, as not only did the DTS-X mix add movement and dimensionality, but also it provided a lossless option instead of the first Blu-ray’s lossy Dolby 5.1 track.

As for the visuals, they showed a step up as well. The 2017 disc lost the mild edge haloes of its predecessor, and it seemed a bit tighter and smoother as well. In terms of audio and picture, the 2017 release offered improvements.

Alas, the 2017 Blu-ray loses all of the 2007 release’s extras, but it compensates with some new materials. Of greatest interest, the 2017 BD features both the film’s theatrical cut (2:10:12) as well as a Director’s Extended Edition (2:20:22).

What does the extra 10 minutes give us? By my count, we get 17 extended or new sequences – with an emphasis on “extended”, as the majority of the unique material expands existing scenes.

11 of the 17 offer longer versions of the songs, and a few scenes slightly expand dramatic material. For instance, we get a little more with Curtis on the red carpet before the Dreams’ final show.

In terms of totally new material, Curtis and CC briefly “sing argue” prior to “Steppin’ to the Bad Side”, and another song offers a musical reconciliation between Effie and CC late in the film. We also find a deleted scene in which Curtis argues with the board at his label.

Much of this footage seems interesting, though obviously it works best if you like the music. The added material really does emphasize the songs and performances.

That means we don’t find much that I can say alters the movie’s narrative or dramatic impact. The reconciliation between CC and Effie works pretty well, and the board meeting adds to our understanding of Curtis’s megalomania.

Which version fares better? That’s a toss-up, though I’d go with the extended cut by a narrow margin. It adds just enough to flesh out the material in a modest way but it doesn’t make the movie drag. Either edition entertains, but the longer one seems a smidgen stronger.

New to the 2017 release, we find a collection of Jennifer Hudson Auditions and Screen Test. This area boasts three auditions: “Can He Even Sing” (0:48), “What About Me” (2:04), and “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” (4:04).

We also find a screen test for “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” (4:42). The three auditions offer raw video footage of Hudson as she interacts with an off-screen casting person, whereas the test puts her in hair/costume and seems more professional. These are all fun to see.

A second disc offers a DVD copy of Dreamgirls. It presents the Director’s Extended Edition along with the same extras except for the “Going” audition clip.

The set finishes with a booklet. This presents an introductory note from director Bill Condon as well as movie photos and song lyrics. It concludes matters in a competent manner.

Dreamgirls provides an inconsistent but often entertaining piece of work. Though it sags as it goes, it provides a better than average movie musical and displays enough strengths to make it worthwhile. The Blu-ray offers excellent picture and audio but it skimps on supplements. The absence of the prior release’s bonus materials disappoints, but this becomes the best rendition of the film itself.

To rate this film visit the DVD Review of DREAMGIRLS

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