Archive for Beyonce

Epic

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on February 26, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Seventeen-year-old Mary Katherine, or M.K. (Amanda Seyfried), moves in with her eccentric scientist father, Professor Bomba (Jason Sudeikis), who has been searching for tiny human soldiers called Leafmen. They protect the forest Bomba lives near from evil creatures called Boggans and their malevolent leader Mandrake (Christoph Waltz). An independent young soldier, Nod (Josh Hutcherson) decides to quit, much to the ire of the no-nonsense Leafmen leader Ronin (Colin Farrell).

The queen of the forest, Queen Tara (Beyoncé Knowles), must choose an heir to her throne and goes out to a field of leaf pods, guarded by a laid-back slug named Mub (Aziz Ansari) and a wannabe Leafman snail named Grub (Chris O’Dowd). Immediately after she chooses a pod, the Boggans attack. Tara flees the area with the pod, and though her bodyguards do their best to protect her, they are soon overwhelmed by the sheer number of Boggans. Eventually, Ronin arrives for her and the pair fly off on his hummingbird mount. They are then attacked by Mandrake and his son Dagda (Blake Anderson). Dagda is killed by Ronin, but Tara is fatally wounded when Mandrake shoots her with an arrow.

Meanwhile, M.K. decides to leave. Before she can leave, the family’s one-eyed, three-legged dog, Ozzy, runs into the woods. While looking for Ozzy, M.K. sees Tara falling. Dying, Tara gives her the pod and uses her magic to shrink her. She tells M.K. to take the pod to a Glowworm named Nim Galuu (Steven Tyler) before she dies, and M.K. joines Ronin and the Leafmen, along with Mub and Grub. Ronin discovers that Nod has entered a race against other creatures and bugs on birds. He goes back on a deal with a tough bullfrog named Bufo (Pitbull) to lose the race. Before Bufo and his two henchmen can kill Nod, Ronin intervenes and orders them to leave. A reluctant Nod joins him, M.K., Mub, and Grub after hearing about Tara’s death.

They eventually find Nim Galuu who leads them down to the scroll library, where M.K. discovers Tara’s brief message before shrinking her, and a message that will get her back to normal size. When Ronin leaves, Nod takes M.K. on a deer ride, and they begin to fall in love. Mandrake (to whom Bufo fearfully reveals the location of the pod, which he overheard from Ronin and Nod) arrives and kidnaps Mub and Grub and imprisons them, along with the pod, which he hopes to bloom in darkness then to use to destroy the forest. To get into Boggan territory undiscovered, M.K., Nod, and Ronin set out to Bomba’s house to get some disguises, where M.K. learns that the Leafmen have deliberately been leading Bomba off their trail.

When they reach the Boggan land Ronin distracts the Boggans while M.K. and Nod rescue Mub, Grub, and the pod. They are eventually found out by Mandrake, who summons the Boggans to stop them. M.K., Nod, Mub, and Grub escape alive, but Ronin sacrifices himself to ensure their escape. Before the full moon can sprout the pod at Moonhaven, Mandrake’s bats block the light, causing the pod to begin sprouting in darkness. As the Leafmen set out to fight the Boggans, M.K. sets out to get her father for assistance. However, upon regaining consciousness, Bomba believes that he didn’t really see M.K. and that he has been insane all these years, and shuts down all his cameras, but changes his mind when he sees a red push-pin that M.K. had put on his map while they were getting disguises.

Bomba is overjoyed to see that he has been right and when he follows M.K. to Moonhaven, he uses his iPod to make bat sounds, causing the bats to follow Bomba. Meanwhile, Mub and Nim Galuu try to stop Mandrake from reaching the pod, but are unsuccessful. Just then, Ronin appears, bearing scars and bruises from the Boggans. Mandrake manages to outdo him, but Ronin is defended by Nod, who finally realizes the importance of teamwork. Before Mandrake can obtain his victory, the moonlight takes over the pod before it blooms in darkness, causing it to bloom in light and defeat the Boggans.

The chosen heir is the flower child who helped save Tara earlier in the film. Grub becomes a Leafman, Nod and Ronin reconcile, and Nod and M.K. kiss before M.K. is returned to her original size. After reuniting with Bomba and becoming his assistant, the human family still keeps regular contact with their small friends as they continue the research of their world.

REVIEW:

With a title like Epic, one would expect some sort of epic adventure, right? That is what this picture intends to be, but I’m not quite sure it accomplishes that goal. Still, I am curious as to the journey it takes us on, not to mention the fact that this film was advertised for like a year, and never seemed to be released until it could be buried amongst the summer blockbusters, rather than coming out at another point in the year, where it could capitalize on the family market.

What is this about?

Magically transported to an enchanted forest, a teenage girl joins forces with a scruffy group of residents fighting a battle against evil — and soon realizes they must win to save both their world and hers.

What did I like?

Scum and villainy. The thing any epic film needs is a great villain. Since this film involves a mysterious heir to the throne, you just know there has to be some bad guy out there who wants the crown to himself. Enter Mandrake, the evil Boggan leader, voiced by Christoph Waltz. Character-wise, he is the typical bad guy, but when you throw in the vocal stylings if Christoph Waltz, there is just a new level of sophisticated evil that wouldn’t be there, otherwise.

Animation. This is some truly breathtaking animation. Seeing the world from the viewpoint of someone who is 2 inches high and then the human world from her viewpoint, as well, was imaginative and impressive. It is amazing to see how far  inferior computer animation (I still prefer traditional hand drawn and/or stop-motion) has come over the years.

What didn’t I like?

Voices carry. Have you ever listened to someone on the radio without ever seeing them, and then suddenly you get the chance to see what they look like and it is nothing like what you expected? Well, this film is the exact opposite. While the voice cast is pretty good, I didn’t feel as if many of the voices fit the characters, save for Beyoncé as the Queen and, as much as I hate to say this, I believe that was only because of her race. Surely, they could have done a better job with the voices than this. Christoph Waltz was one of the few exceptions, as were a handful of others, but for the most part, this was bad casting.

Is it over yet? So, I was sitting through this film and I couldn’t help but notice that for the gorgeous spectacle that this is, the film itself is not even close to be interesting. It doesn’t matter how much action, stunning visuals, or what have you is put into a film, it still has to be entertaining and not coma inducing. Apparently, these filmmakers didn’t get that memo.

Epic is a film that can best be summed up in two words…epic fail. For all its efforts to capture the kind of charm that Pixar and DreamWorks films receive, it fails horribly. For me, this just didn’t work, but I can see how kids and younger audiences would have a blast with it. Do I recommend it? Yes, if you’re into this kind of film, but I have to also say there are much better flicks than this.

2 1/2 out of 5 stars

 

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Obsessed

Posted in Drama, Horror, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , on August 29, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Derek Charles (Idris Elba) is the Executive Vice President of Gage Bendix and has received a recent promotion from his boss (Bruce McGill). He is happily married to Sharon Charles (Beyoncé Knowles), who is pursuing her business degree. They have a son, Kyle. However, a new temporary worker, Lisa Sheridan (Ali Larter) begins to unnerve him. Derek’s best friend and co-worker, Ben (Jerry O’Connell), reminds him to be careful because he thinks she has her eyes on him. Lisa eventually attempts to seduce him, but he repeatedly rejects her advances. Lisa becomes obsessed and begins to manipulate Derek and Sharon’s relationship, eventually becoming violent. Lisa’s actions become erratic and she fakes a suicide in Derek’s hotel room while he is on a business trip, leaving him no choice but to send her to the hospital. Meanwhile, Sharon is trying to reach Derek but she can’t get in touch with him so she calls Ben. Ben tries to cover for Derek but he just comes out and tells her that he should tell her the truth himself. This prompts Sharon to go to the hospital where Derek is. Detective Monica Reese (Christine Lahti) interrogates Derek about his “relationship” with Lisa. Both Detective Reese and Sharon refuse to believe he didn’t sleep with Lisa. When Derek and Sharon go home, Sharon kicks him out of the house and they separate for three months. Derek moves into his own apartment. However, she still lets him visit and play with Kyle.

Within the three months, Detective Reese interrogates Lisa, who lies about her relationship with Derek. Detective Reese discovers that Derek was telling the truth and that Lisa is insane. Reese informs Derek that she believes him now and Lisa has moved to San Francisco. After Sharon forgives Derek, they go out to dinner for his birthday. Sharon gives him a gift that is actually the key to the house. While they are out, Lisa goes to their home and convinces the babysitter Samantha (Scout Taylor-Compton) to let her in, eventually escaping with Kyle while Samantha is distracted. When Derek and Sharon return, Samantha informs them that Lisa had been there, and they find that Kyle is missing. Derek goes to the car, intending to pursue Lisa, and finds Kyle in the backseat with lipstick from Lisa on his forehead. They immediately take Kyle to the hospital to make sure he is okay. Detective Reese meets up with them there. Sharon warns her that she better do something about Lisa or she’ll do it herself. Reese assures them that she’ll handle it. They take Kyle home, where they have a hard time putting the upset baby to bed. Afterwards, they try to go to bed they see that Lisa has trashed their bedroom and removed Sharon’s face from all the family portraits. The next morning, Sharon leaves an angry, threatening voicemail on Lisa’s phone. They set up a home alarm system, while Lisa secretly monitors the house from outside.

Later on, Patrick (Matthew Humphreys), Derek’s assistant, receives a call from Lisa. He reveals that Sharon and Derek will be visiting her mother’s house, with Sharon leaving that afternoon and Derek first thing the next morning. While Sharon is on the way to her sister’s to pick up Kyle before she goes to her mothers, she calls Derek, who asks her if she set the alarm. She realizes that she forgot and goes back to set it. Meanwhile, Lisa has broken into the house with a bottle of champagne. While setting the alarm, Sharon hears Lisa pop the champagne bottle open. Sharon finds Lisa wearing one of Derek’s t-shirts lying in her bed. Sharon tells Lisa she is calling the police, but Lisa tries to stop her. Sharon pushes Lisa down, but Lisa gets up and shoves Sharon onto the dresser, knocking her down, and begins kicking her. Lisa grabs a lamp and tries to hit Sharon with it, but Sharon escapes to the bathroom.

Derek calls the house and Lisa answers. Sharon struggles with Lisa to get the phone, headbutting her and knocking her down. Sharon tells Derek she’s going to have to call him back and hangs up. Derek calls Detective Reese and leaves his office. While fighting, Sharon reminds Lisa of everything she has done. Lisa escapes and runs to the attic. Sharon pursues Lisa to the attic, where she is attacked. Sharon, remembering when Derek showed her a weak spot in the floor, leads Lisa to it. Lisa falls through the floor and hangs onto the edge. Sharon reaches out and grabs her hand to prevent her from falling, but Lisa pulls Sharon down with her instead of accepting her help. Seeing that the floor is starting to buckle, Sharon pries Lisa off of her arm and she falls to the ground. Lisa grabs a chandelier, stopping her fall, but lets go and falls onto the table below. Sharon sighs in regret as she sees this, but then sees Lisa open her eyes. Lisa begins to rise up when the broken chandelier falls on Lisa and seemingly kills her. Derek and Detective Reese arrive as Sharon comes out of the front door. As the film ends, Sharon and Derek embrace each other.

REVIEW:

When I saw the trailers for this, I admittedly wasn’t interested until I saw the scenes of Ali Larter in her underwear, and of course Beyonce. Those two pieces of eye candy aside, when you get right down to ir, this film isn’t half bad.

Idris Elba isn’t a household name here in the states, but I’m sure he will be soon. He gives the kid of performance that rockets actors from nothings to mega stars. The most interesting thing I found out about his character is that he is 100% faithful. Often times in movies like this, the guy resists initially, but in time he caves. This is not the case here, with the exception of when he is drugged and has no choice, he resists all of Ali Larter’s advances, knowing that he has a wife and kid waiting for him at home.

Beyonce takes on her most dramatic role to date, as this is the only one that I can recall where she doesn’t sing or dance at all. This is a deep role for her, but it wasn’t so much her acting that impressed me, but rather the fact that she layed the smackdown on Ali Landry at the end. Amazing what can happen to someone when their family is threatened.

Speaking of Ali Landry, she’s no stranger to playing psychos. The first season of Heroes had he as a woman with extreme dual personalities. Now, in this film she is just plain disturbed. Initially, it seems as though she is just going to get her work done and be on her way, then the next day, we see her become more and more Obsessed. She is without a doubt the best part of the film.

As far as thrillers go, this one is a bit on the tame side. It actually leans more towards the drama side, rather than the suspense genre, but I believe that can partially be attributed to the PG-13 rating. I never really got the sense of uncertainty about what was going to happen that one expects from a suspense film. It just seemed to be rather predictable.

Critics generally didn’t care for this film. They seemed to think everything was, as I said, predictable. That felt Beyonce was trying too hard and that you learned everything you needed to know from the trailer. I have to go back and look at said trailer again to know if I agree with them, but this film could have been better, but it isn’t half bad, and is pretty entertaining, especially the end. I wouldn’t rush out and get it, but when you get the chance, at least check it out.

3 1/2 out of 5 stars

Cadillac Records

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 11, 2009 by Mystery Man

 

PLOT:

This movie is based on the true story of how a small music recording studio, Chess Records, located on the south side of Chicago, began recording blues music with Muddy Waters (Jeffrey Wright) and Little Walter (Columbus Short) in 1947, and eventually gave birth to rock and roll in 1955 with Chuck Berry (Mos Def). Record producer, Leonard Chess (Adrien Brody) has an ear for this different type of music, and believes he can cash in by signing up new talent such as songwriter, Willie Dixon (Cedric the Entertainer), Howlin’ Wolf (Eamonn Walker), and Etta James (Beyonce Knowles). Leonard Chess makes all of his artist part of his family and takes care of them. This is not an easy job for him, because they spend a small fortune on booze, drugs, and the high life. When Chuck Berry goes to jail, Leonard is able to find another talented performer, Etta James, to take his place. In the late sixties, as their music goes out of favor, Leonard Chess gets out of the record business. Douglas Young (the-movie-guy) .

REVIEW:

As a music (and Beyonce) lover, I couldn’t help but be curious as to how good or bad this film was. After watching it this afternoon, I was pleasantly surprised.

Adrien Brody flexes his acting chops and reminds us all why he won that Oscar not too long ago. He really brings depth and believability to Leonard Chess.

Jeffrey Wright is best known to me as Peoples Hernandez from Shaft. I had no idea he was capable of handling such a taxing role as Muddy Waters. It seems as if he is familiar with Waters and may even have been a fan.

I’ve heard that Etta James was not happy with Beyonce playing her in this film. I’m a fan of Beyonce, but I can see Etta’s point. Beyonce just didn’t seem right for this role. For me, it seemed as though she was trying to channel her character from Dreamgirls. The only difference seems to be that Etta has meat on her bones and is grittier. Make no mistake about Beyonce’s talent, this just wasn’t the role for her, no matter what she thinks.

Mos Def, Cedric the Entertainer, Gabrielle Union, and Emmanuelle Chriqui round out this outstanding cast. Each steps up their game a notch and delivers arguably the best performances of their career.

You can’t have a film about musicians without a killer soundtrack, and this film is no exception, but I could have done without the rap version of a Muddy Waters song that played as the film ended. I know many think work such as that is genius, but I find it offensive and lazy. They’re just using someone else’s work as a part of their own because they are too lazy to come up with something on their own…just like Hollywood with all the reboots and remakes.

This film is obvioulsy about all the artists at Chess Records, but it seems to foucs almost exclusively on Muddy Waters. Now, I would have no issue with this, if the film was a Muddy Waters biopic, but it isn’t, so more screentime shouldh ave been given to the other acts, especially Howln’ Wolf and Etta James.

As far as biopics go, this is one of the more entertaining films in recent memory. It kept my attention from beginning to end, which is no easy task, let me tell you. The performances were top notch, as was the music. I think anyone that wants to watch this is more than likely going to be interested in it for the subject matter (not counting those who would watch just for Beyonce) and will enjoy it.

4 out of 5 stars

Goldmember

Posted in Action/Adventure, Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 5, 2008 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

The movie starts with an action sequence, after which the protagonist is revealed to be not Powers, but Tom Cruise playing him, alongside other A-list actors (Gwyneth Paltrow as Dixie Normous, Kevin Spacey as Dr. Evil, and Danny DeVito as Mini-Me), in a film about Powers directed by Steven Spielberg. Powers is then shown talking to Spielberg during the production of the film, but breaks into his usual dance in the beginning until he and his group stumble on Britney Spears in the middle of a music video shoot (for her song “Boys”). Austin and Britney start a dance off until Britney turns out to be a fembot when twin machine gun barrels pop out of her leather top. She tries to kill Austin but fails, and Austin uses his mojo to make her head blow up.

The year is 2002. In his new underground lair behind the famous Hollywood sign, Dr. Evil outlines his latest evil plan. Using a time machine he will go back to 1975 and bring back a Dutchman, Johan van der Smut (alias Goldmember), who had developed a cold fusion unit for a tractor beam. He intends to use the tractor beam to pull a golden meteor into the Earth to strike and melt the polar ice caps and cause global flooding. However, the plot is discovered by the British Secret Service, and Austin leads a group of commandos to arrest Dr. Evil and place him in a maximum security prison.

Austin is knighted for his services but is disappointed when his father (the famous super-spy Nigel Powers) fails to attend the investiture. However, he later learns that his father was kidnapped from his yacht and that some of the crew have had their genitals painted with gold. It was immediately revealed to Austin that Nigel was kidnapped after he skipped out on the knighting ceremony. In search of answers, Austin visits the imprisoned Dr. Evil, who tells him that the insane Goldmember is behind the abduction and, on the condition that he be transferred to a normal prison to be with his beloved Mini-Me, reveals that he is in 1975.

Traveling back to 1975, Austin infiltrates Goldmember’s roller disco club “Studio 69” (a spoof of Studio 54) and begins the search. Austin meets up with Foxxy Cleopatra–an old flame and FBI agent–who is working undercover in the club. Austin locates his father but before they can escape they are delivered into Goldmember’s inner sanctum. Goldmember abducts Nigel to 2002 in Dr. Evil’s time machine. Austin and Foxxy give chase in the MOD’s time-travel device (a pimpmobile).

Back in 2002, Frau Farbissina visits Dr. Evil is in his normal prison and tells him that his son, Scott, wants to take over the family business and has started becoming evil to the point of losing his hair. By way of a passionate kiss, Frau passes a key to Dr. Evil. The other prisoners are encouraged to start a riot, which distracts the guards and permits Dr. Evil and Mini-Me to escape.

A British Intelligence mole (who, much to Austin’s disgust, actually has a large mole on his face) in Dr. Evil’s organization informs Austin that the doctor has moved to a new lair somewhere near Tokyo, Japan. Austin and Foxxy fly to Tokyo where they are informed that Dr. Evil’s henchman Fat Bastard is wrestling at the Asahi Sumo Arena. Slipping into the changing rooms, Austin confronts Fat Bastard and manages to subdue him. Fat Bastard confesses that a Japanese businessman, Mr. Roboto, is making some sort of contraption for Dr. Evil.

Dr. Evil’s new lair is a submarine lurking in Tokyo Bay. Goldmember tells Dr. Evil that they have the ultimate insurance policy in Austin Power’s father. Mini-Me escorts Nigel to his cell but he starts to subvert Mini-Me, claiming that he will gain as much respect from Dr. Evil as he actually is of him: one-eighths. Later, Scott presents his father with a pair of sharks with laser beams attached to their heads. Overjoyed, Dr. Evil professes his love for his son and seats Scott at his right hand, displacing Mini-Me. The clone leaves dejected (but not before giving everyone in the room the finger).

Austin and Foxxy meet with Mr. Roboto, who pleads ignorance about Nigel’s whereabouts. Unconvinced, Austin and Foxxy infiltrate Roboto’s factory where the command unit for the tractor beam is being loaded in Goldmember’s car. Roboto hands Goldmember a golden key which is needed to activate the beam. Foxxy confronts Goldmember, but Nigel is about to have an “unfortunate smelting accident” and Goldmember escapes as Nigel is being rescued. They chase Goldmember through Tokyo, but he reaches the safety of Dr. Evil’s sub which departs before they can apprehend him. Austin and Nigel dispute the course of action but cannot agree, and go their separate ways.

In Austin’s hotel, the mole has arranged the defection of Mini-Me. Austin, Foxxy and Mini-Me (now an Austin Mini) use Nigel’s spy car in submarine mode to reach Dr. Evil’s lair and gain entry. Foxxy splits up from Austin and Mini-Me, and they begin to search the sub.

In the control room, Dr. Evil threatens the World Organization with a global flood. To prove he isn’t bluffing, he uses the tractor beam to pull a satellite out of orbit. Following the successful trial of the beam, Roboto demands a bonus which Dr. Evil refuses. Becoming more evil, Scott takes over and disposes of Roboto in the shark tank.

Austin and Mini-Me, disguised as one person are waylaid by the medical officer but obtain a plan of the vessel. Rumbled by the MO, Mini-Me escapes and meets up with Foxxy while Austin is taken to the control room.

Dr. Evil offers to show Austin his plan before killing him, but the activation key is missing. Foxxy and Mini-Me enter with guns and the missing key. Austin now threatens Dr. Evil at gunpoint, but his father intervenes and reveals that Dr. Evil and Austin are brothers, separated at an early age during an assassination attempt. The three are reconciled, but Scott interrupts, angry that now that he’s finally become evil his father is turning good. Declaring that he hates them all, he vows revenge and leaves.

However, Goldmember intends to complete the destruction of the world. Although Foxxy throws the activation key into the shark tank, Goldmember has a spare: his gold-plated penis. As Goldmember begins to activate the tractor beam, Dr. Evil reverses the polarity of the cold fusion unit, which electrocutes and kills Goldmember and destroys the meteor.

Then it suddenly appears this entire string of events was actually adapted into a film by Steven Spielberg, starring Tom Cruise. The whole Austin Powers cast (aside from Scott) are in the audience of a Hollywood theater, and enjoy watching the film. Upon exiting, they bump into Fat Bastard, but he isn’t fat anymore – he took the Subway diet and lost a lot of weight, and is now very thin. Austin and Foxy congratulate him on this achievement, though “Fat” Bastard reveals all of his excess skin sagging off his muscles, and adds that his neck looks like a vagina. Austin and Foxxy exit the theater and share a quick but intimate kiss under some fireworks.

Meanwhile, alone in Dr. Evil’s Hollywood lair, a completely bald, maniacal Scott has taken over Dr. Evil’s criminal empire and declares, like his father did in the last two films, that he will “get” Austin Powers; he then proceeds to inexplicably get out of his chair and dance like Michael Jackson.

REVIEW:

This is undoubtedly the weakest of the Austin Powers franchise. The jokes would be funny if not for the fact that the majority of them are the same as in the first two films.

Beyonce is the highlight of the film. Even with this very weak script, she pulls out a very good performance.

Not to make it sound sound like the movie is a total waste of time. There are funny moments. The highlight is the water fountain scene. All in all, it’s a pretty good movie, but if you’ve seen any Austin Powers movies before, then you pretty much know what you’re going to see here.

2 out of 5 stars

Dreamgirls

Posted in Movie Reviews, Musicals with tags , , , , , , , on August 11, 2008 by Mystery Man

 

Musicals have come a long way over the years. There was a period of time when they weren’t even worth watching. That period of time has long since passed, though. Chances are you know this is Jennifer Hudson’s breakout role and have heard her rendition of “I’m Telling You I’m not Going.” This movie is far more than that, though. They keep saying its not based on Diana Ross and the Supremes, but anyone that knows anything about Motown can see the similarities.

PLOT:

The film begins in Detroit, Michigan in 1962, as an amateur African-American girl group known as The Dreamettes enter a talent competition at the Detroit Theater. Backstage, the three girls — full-figured lead singer Effie White (Jennifer Hudson), Deena Jones (Beyoncé Knowles) and Lorrell Robinson (Anika Noni Rose) — meet Curtis Taylor, Jr., an ambitious Cadillac dealer with plans of breaking into the music business. Placing himself as their manager, Curtis arranges for the Dreamettes to tour as backup for a regional R&B star, James “Thunder” Early (Eddie Murphy). The tour takes the company – also including Effie’s songwriting brother C.C. (Keith Robinson) and Jimmy’s manager Marty (Danny Glover) – across the country on the chitlin’ circuit.

Hoping to help Jimmy and the girls cross over to mainstream audiences, Curtis starts his own record label, Rainbow Records (“The Sound of Tomorrow”), out of his car dealership’s office, and makes C.C. his head songwriter. However, when Rainbow’s first single fails after a white pop group releases a cover version, Curtis and his sidekick Wayne (Hinton Battle) turn to payola. By paying the right people, Curtis manages to get Jimmy and the Dreamettes to the top of the Billboard Hot 100 and into a headlining gig at the Apollo Theater. Offstage, Effie is quickly becoming infatuated with the slick-talking Curtis, and Jimmy – a married man – begins an adulterous affair with Lorrell, who becomes equally as lovesick as Effie.

Marty grows weary of Curtis’ plans to make Jimmy’s image and sound more pop-friendly, to the point that he walks out on Jimmy, both his client and best friend. However, when Curtis finds that he cannot completely remake Jimmy Early into a pop act, he shifts his attention back to the Dreamettes. Feeling that Effie’s voice is too “special” and her figure too large to attract white audiences, Curtis appoints the slimmer Deena as the lead singer of the Dreamettes.

With the aid of new songs and a new more glamorous image, Curtis and C.C. transform The Dreamettes into The Dreams, a top selling pop act whose popularity comes to rival that of The Beatles by 1965. However, the betrayed Effie does not take kindly to being reduced to Deena’s backup, and begins acting out, becoming even more unruly when Curtis’s affections also turn towards Deena. When Effie, feeling ill, does not turn up to rehearse for the Dreams’ debut in Las Vegas on New Year’s Eve 1966, Curtis replaces Effie with his secretary, Michelle Morris (Sharon Leal). Effie, who has just learned she is pregnant, arrives at the Caesar’s Palace venue just as Michelle does, and after a nearly violent argument, finds herself without her group, without her brother, and without Curtis.

Eight years later, in 1973, Effie has become a depressed but caring welfare mother, and her career in music is over. She and her seven-year-old daughter Magic live alone in the burnt-out inner city of Detroit with only Effie’s father Ronald to look in on them. On the other hand, Rainbow Records has moved to Los Angeles, where it prospers with Deena Jones & the Dreams and many other pop acts. Wanting to expand his empire into film, Curtis plans to have an unwilling Deena, now his wife, star in a blaxploitation musical version of Cleopatra. Hoping that the struggling film project will never get off the ground, Deena begins secretly meeting with other studios to take a part in another film.

Though still part of the Rainbow roster, Jimmy Early’s stardom has long faded, and Curtis has little interest in revitalizing his career. Unsatisfied with both his wife Melba and his long-term mistress Lorrell, Jimmy turns to drugs for affection. Meanwhile, C.C. continues to reach out to Effie, who stubbornly ignores the letters and money he sends. Eventually, Effie swallows her pride and, with Marty as her manager, returns to singing and secures gigs at a small Detroit club.

In 1974, Rainbow Records hosts a tenth anniversary TV special. Midway through his set, Jimmy decides that he cannot sing any more “sad songs”, so he breaks down onstage and launches into a wild James Brown-type funk number. The audience seems to love it, but the act goes too far during the end when Jimmy drops his pants on live television. Curtis consequently terminates Jimmy’s contract, and Lorrell ends the eight-year affair. Some time later, Jimmy is found dead at an L.A. hotel, apparently the result of a heroin overdose.

C.C., angry over Jimmy’s death and frustrated with Curtis’s tampering with his music, walks out on Rainbow Records and heads back to Detroit and to Effie. The two siblings reconcile and work together to produce Effie’s comeback single, “One Night Only”. Just as the record begins gaining radio play in Detroit, however, Curtis strikes. Using payola, he forces radio DJs to play a disco cover of “One Night Only” by Deena Jones & the Dreams instead of Effie’s original, and the Dreams’ version becomes a major hit in early 1975.

Curtis has also learned of Deena’s covert meetings with other film producers and asserts his control over his wife. Rebuffed, Deena sneaks into Curtis’ office, where she discovers evidence of Curtis’ payola schemes and finds a copy of Effie’s version of “One Night Only”. She calls Effie and C.C., who arrive at the Rainbow offices with Marty and a lawyer. As Deena and Effie reconcile, Curtis works out a deal with the lawyer to avoid being reported to the FBI for payola: Rainbow Records will fund a new label for C.C., which will allow Effie’s record national distribution. Curtis then confronts Deena, only to find that Effie’s victory has inspired Deena to leave him and make it on her own.

As a result, Deena Jones & the Dreams give a farewell performance at the Detroit Theater. At the conclusion of the concert, Effie joins Deena, Lorrell, and Michelle onstage and the reunited Dreams give one final performance of their signature song, “Dreamgirls”, with Effie singing lead. As the concert ends, Curtis notices Magic in the front row and realizes that he is the girl’s father. The final scene shows Deena, Effie, Lorrell, and Michelle finish the final song as the room fades to black and the credits roll.

REVIEW:

I’ve seen many a musical in my day, and this is up there with the best of them. not in the top tier, but definitely worth of mentioning. As with any good musical, the music makes the story. However, as a movie, I’m not sure I agree with the emphasis taken away from the music.

Also, and this may be something that occurs in the actual musical, it seems like the songs lose some of their memorability once things shift into the 70s. I’m assuming that would bea different act if this was in a theater.

Jennifer Hudson blows everyone away with her performance. No wodner she won the Oscar. Hard to belive that this role could have gone to Fantasia or Raven Symone, huh? Something tells me, they wouldn’t have had the same impact, especially Fantasia.

Beyonce isn’t half bad either, but you know she had to check her ego at the door to play second fiddle to someone who didn’t even finish in the top 5 of American Idol! Of course, I’m glad she’s gone back to eating and isn’t the twig she became for this movie.

The first time I can remember seeing Eddie Murphy was a clip of Saturday Night Live when he was impersonating James Brown. For many of his earlier performances he seems to go back to those days. Am I the only that’s noticed how Eddie Murphy’s face is elongated these days. He looks more like Arsenio Hall now!

Keith Robinson is supposed to be the Smokey Robinson character in all this. You know, the songwriter. He does an excellent job. With all the hype surrounding everyone else, you totally forget about him.

Jamie Foxx is totally believable as a no good, dirty, greaseball manager/car dealer. I wasn’t sure what to think of that at first except that they just wanted to get a big name in that role and he was fresh off of the success of Ray.

There are a few thigns I would have done different when it comes to this movie, but still it’s pretty good.

4 1/2 out of 5 stars