December 08, 2006


Apologies for my long silence, but I've been out enjoying the city. Since they passed that law banning trans fats from restaurant fare by 2008, I've been on a suicide mission to gobble as much chow while these establishments can legally admit me. But I've also seen a couple films. BORAT is a hoot and a half which I ha to watch twice. Sick and smart and uproariously funny, don't miss this one! I know I'm a little late on this review, but I'm early on the next.

I caught DREAMGIRLS last night at a special screening for industry big wigs at The William Morris Agency. As a part-time janitor there, I was able to sneak in for several of the big scenes. Though that's a lie, there were several notables there, including the author of Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil, Henry Krieger, who composed both the original score and the new tracks, and Anika Noni Rose, who is fab as the ditzy Dreamgirl Lorell Robinson.

Hollywood got this one right. They waited a long time for the film version of this musical, and this one's worth the wait. It's exciting, with tons of performances, costumes, sets, and lights. It's a visual treat with a great story which doesn't lag for a second. The casting is super, and Jennifer Hudson, who does the Jennifer Holiday role, is a joy and she steals the film, in her very first acting role! She's just unbelievably sassy with a great set of pipes. No, she can't touch J-Ho, but who can? I'd forgotten how fun the other tunes in the show were, and Eddie Murphy has a few bombastic moments, too. Keith Robinson as the songwiter C.C. White is very appealing and sings well. I'll be getting the soundtrack.

As C.C., Keith Robinson sings one moving song called FAMILY. I asked a show queen how Diane Ross felt about DREAMGIRLS, since the plot is essentially based on her career. Apparently, she was livid over the film and there was a well-publicized incident where Jennifer Holiday entered a resaurant that La Ross was dining in and Diana walked at the sight of her. (As did the kitchen staff! Just warming up!) But then Diana surprised everyone by singing FAMILY at her Central Park concert. And that's why it rained!

Beyonce is the only disappointment. She passes, but she is is certainly not charismatic as an actress. Like the Supremes, the Dreamettes hail from Detroit, yet inexplicably, Beyonce retains her Houston drawl. I rarely like her whiny (if powerful) singing voice anyway. According to an industry insider, musical directors for the film curtailed her incessant vocal riffing up and down the scale and made her stick to the melodies. (Remember Destiny's Child's unbearable cover of the Bee Gees' EMOTION?) But in order to be considered for an Oscar for best song, a film must include new music or it's considered a revival, so Miss Knowles gets a new power ballad, called LISTEN. Though I don't love the way her voice winds around notes, she can hit 'em (in whatever key her weird personal scale is in), but it was interesting that her new solo was the only tune NOT applauded by the hard-boiled audience of agents with which I viewed the film. And this is after we were plied with wine and gourmet popcorn (full of trans fats, no doubt) which we enjoyed from plush couches. (I was so relaxed that I shit myself on that last note of AND I AM TELLING YOU.)

At one point, when Beyonce tries to free herself from the Berry Gordy figure's grip (well-acted by a sexy Jamie Foxx), he tells her something like "Your voice has no personality." To prove him wrong, she belts out LISTEN. This changes the plot considerably. Suddenly her voice has lots of personality? So why was it ever a mistake that Jamie's character, Curtis Taylor, Jr., singled out slim Deena Jones over plus-sized Effie, with her gigantic voice? Makes no sense and it's kind of a central theme, y'all. But you have to bow to Beyonce cuz she'll sell tickets. That's why no one informed her not to pronounce "Do this" as "Do dis." Was Diana Ross ever ghetto? OK, in public? How I wish that this project had been packaged for Whitney Houston 10-15 years ago. She can act and sing, and doesn't need a whirlwind of MTV-style production numbers to wow you. Just a mike, thanks.

Also added are a couple of scenes I don't recall from the original. (Though, admittedly, it's been a coupla years since I saw the Braodway stageshow.) While having a tiff in the studio, Effie bolts out angrily and is followed by two-timing Curtis. They encounter a riot in the streets of Detroit. Oh yeah! Throw in a riot! A little fire and destruction/distraction. It'll hold straight males attention if they see somebody getting hurt. At another point, we've hit the 70's and Eddie wants to change things up by singing a message song. Curtis dismisses the idea because they need non-confrontational records which will sell. There's kind of a black rights, civil rights moment which I don't think belongs there. As much as I'd like to see people get more involved in decrying the world's situation, this scenette feels unnecessary and out of place. There's enough confrontation amongst the characters--you don't need to throw this mess in for a second and then abandon it just as quickly without developing it.


Effie's replacement is played by Sharon Leal, an elegant creature with a button nose who has already snagged a record deal with Universal Music. I wonder if Beyonce's daddy was nervous about filming this beauty a little too close to Beyonce. (In fact, you have to give Beyonce points for appearing with no make-up and a dowdy wig in the early scenes to heighten her transition to glamorpuss. Before Beyonce is given the godess treatment at which she excels, the other two Dreamettes are as attractive than the world's premiere pop sex kitten. Apparently, Mr. Knowles insisted on giving Beyonce writing credit for one line she managed to insert into LISTEN. Hmmm. A girl group which axed it's fourth member and had the favored (by the ruthless svengali/manger) girl with inferior pipes take the lead and then go solo and do movies. The story of Destiny's Child may well deserve it's own DREAMGIRLS-style script. If Beyonce was dynamic enough, that is...


Blogger Whiplash Lopenski said...

Beyonce can eat a bag of dicks!

1:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We all knew Beyonce would be the dead weight. Thank god the film is powerful enough to keep her in the shadows. Great review Bunny!

1:56 PM  
Blogger Lady Bunny said...

Whiplash! Can I eat a bag of dicks too? --LB

2:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

why do write so much? more pictures!

5:08 PM  
Blogger ayeM8y said...

I suggest that Beyonce can’t sing (at least twice a day) while enduring yet another painful song being wailed on the radio, TV, or in a store, and people act as if I blasphemed or sumpin’. The girl has a great body and a big ole booty, and she was lucky to have those girls singing behind her, but come on she sings up and down the scales because she can’t hold a note! Just pick a note and stick to it. Glad to know the whole movie is not about her CUNTRY ASS.

8:21 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I give Beyonce some credit for taking the role. Dreamgirls was always about how the fat girl sang better but the skinny bitch became a star. Effie always stole that show with And I Am Telling You. Just ask Sheryl Lee Ralph.

PS: keep writing long pieces. We can find cute pics on google and every other site but your writing is one of a kind.

12:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good Writing!
I agree
I learned LOTS of good new slang here too!
Tracy in Atlanta

2:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Another great piece of writing Bun Bun. Can't wait to see the film now. Best description of Beyonce's "talents" as well. On Broadway, Sheryl Lee Ralph didn't oversing but remained smoth and very "pop" so the plot made sense. Would've loved if all the Broadway gals all had cameos like Chita in Chicago.

P.S. worked onstage w/ Sharon Leal, she's a sweetheart and even more stunning in person.

4:09 PM  
Blogger Lady Bunny said...

I agree about giving Beyonce credit for taking the role--if she was aware that she might be taking a backseat to a heavyset heifer who can really sing. I don't think she was aware of this, however. But in an ironic way, if they can sell tickets using Beyonce's name and showcase more talented performers and keep Beyonce in a role in which she's supposed to be half-assed, good for them. (Although even half-assed can be acted with umph.) But I think that she and the powers that be are hoping that LISTEN will appeal to her existing fans and steal the movie. I think Beyonce had better get used to the fact that this isn't her movie. Still, she makes a glamorous second (or 3rd or 4th) fiddle. --LB

5:23 PM  
Blogger archive said...


A bushel of dicks for the ensemble!

Instead of this relentless, repetition of 1/2 way decent remakes, can a bitch please get some original material?

10:06 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

As someone who doesn't belong to the Beyonce fan club, I am so tired of all the hatred toward her. She does a good job in the film, and I honestly can't imagine who else could've filled the part. Yes...the movie is Jennifer Hudson's...just as the musical was Jennifer Holliday's...but I wouldn't consider Beyonce as "dead weight" who, with the help of her father, has masterminded changing the focus of the film to Deena. And it makes sense to give the lead female actress in a musical a solo, (Deena didn't have any in the original Broadway production) and especially one like "Listen" that is a beautiful song and a hit record. Despite what Lady Bunny believes, it is still consistent with the story b/c she has not unleashed this voice and personality until this point. My only complaint with her performance is that she didn't show any signs of a personal struggle between screwing her friend over and becoming famous. But maybe that's what you have to do to survive in the land of divas...and who knows better than her?

5:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought Beyonce was GREAT in the movie...a step up from the other movies she's done. There this thing called progress and growth that people seem to forget has to take place before someone is considered a GREAT actress. For example, if you take a look at Denzel's earlier work he wasn't the brillant actor he is now. In fact...I love J Hudson (I actually grew up with her) BUT her acting wasn't all that stellar...but her voice, as usual was phenomenal.

2:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I Dont Know Why Everyone Is Saying Beyonce Cant Sing And Saying That She Did A Bad Job. That Was What Her Role Was All About. Her Role Was About Being A Skinny Girl who couldnt sing that well and in my opinion she did a great job at it.

4:50 PM  
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