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Dreamgirls: Part 1

05.22.2006


CLICK HERE for pictures from the film

It's not every day that one gets invited to an "event" starring Beyonce Knowles, so even though the to-be-released-in-December feature DREAMGIRLS didn't interest me all that much, Beyonce did, so I decided to head on down to Dreamworks' DREAMGIRLS "event" asap to see what all the fuss was about.

The event turned out to be two-fold for myself: the first part was all about celebrity gazing/rubbing elbows and part two was all about the movie. Since this is a movie site, I figured that I'd split this piece up into two parts, so that anyone interested in the "celeb stuff" can just click on the link below and read that fun junk, while anyone interested in the movie itself, as well as my dinky take on it, could stay here and read along. Cool?

READ 'CELEB' END OF SORTED EVENING

Stepping into this event without my right-hand friend Arrow by my side was a pretty big bummer, as not many people like to attend "events" all by their lonesome, but I'm a pretty big fan of Beyonce, so I got my ass down to the Martinez hotel to see what was up with this film.

Walking into the big-ass ballroom rented for the event, I quickly realized that this was going to be more of a rinky-dink cocktail party, rather than anything truly substantial about the movie (boy, did I turn out to be wrong!!). We weren't allowed cameras into this room (this never makes sense to me), so I didn't get many pictures myself, but all the stuff you're gonna see in my two reports, were provided afterwards, so it worked out...for the most part.

The room was basically decorated a la DREAMGIRLS with walls jammed with pictures from the film, banners with the history of the Broadway musical on which it's based as well as actual costumes from the movie, put up for display. Every nook in the room had a French dude standing around with a microphone in their ear, while plenty of waiters/waitresses were walking about serving free drinks and hors d'oeuvres to all of the press folks invited to the gig. I had gorged myself on some chow before I left the apartment, so I was left lapping down champagne, while leaving the hors d'oeuvres for another day-- although I gotta admit, they looked quite tasty.

Believing this to be "it", I was bored and even thought about leaving after 45 minutes of mulling around, and running into Ian McKellen (more about that HERE). But lo and behold, at around the one hour mark, another door opened in the back of the room and we were all shepherded into another room filled with chairs. It was like sheep heading into slaughter, only without the slaughter part, and a big screen in front of the room.

As per my high school and college days, I headed to the back of the class, and sat my ass down right in back of some seats marked "reserved". As it turned out, this would be one of THE choice spots in the room, as my celeb coverage would attest HERE. If the names Bruce Willis and Hugh Jackman mean anything to you, read the other part of my coverage as well....fun times.

Finally, everyone gathered into the room, and producer Laurence Mark took to the microphone. He was happy to report that the film had completed shooting about six weeks ago, and that we would be the first peeps in the world to see footage from the movie. About 20 actual minutes worth, in fact....4 complete scenes. The lights went down and the action began:

SCENE 1: This scene featured Eddie Murphy's character walking up to the Dreamgirls on a stage, early on in the film, falling to his knees and begging the middle chick, to tell him whatever she wants him to do. She replies that she simply wants him to teach them the song, and they all start bellowing out a catchy, catchy tune.

Massive applause followed this sequence, which was mighty energetic and fun. Murphy stole that show.

SCENE 2: This scene featured Jamie Foxx's character walking into the Dreamgirls' dressing room as the girls were chattering on about "boys" and announcing that they would be splitting up from Eddie Murphy's character. The girls are pissed at first, but when Foxx explains to them that it's because he wants them to headline their own shows, they rejoice. But that doesn't last long as Foxx has to tell the girls that Jennifer Hudson will no longer be the "lead voice" in the team, but that Beyonce's character will be, because...well, she's prettier. Hudson is obviously insulted by this and breaks out into song. Foxx then breaks out into song himself, explaining how this is all about "family" and not egos and shit.

SCENE 3: This scene features Beyonce and Foxx, later on in the film, appearing to be married and arguing about some movie that she's going to be in. Beyonce bitches about something or another, and Foxx breaks out into song about the fact that she's been his "dream" girl since the first time that he laid eyes on her. It's a sweet sequence.

SCENE 4: To end things off, the filmmakers go right back to a peppy song sequence as this scene features the three girls, dressed in high-flying glitter dresses, singing their asses off on stage. It's yet another catchy and energetic sequence and song, as Beyonce's mom and Foxx sit in the audience and revel. The scene is exquisitely shot as the POV views from the girls doesn't show the audience but darkness covered in lights that appear to be a sky filled with stars. Good shit.


-- click to enlarge --

When the scenes were finished, the lights opened and the crowd exploded into cheers and whistles. I gotta admit that as much as I'm not a "musical guy" in the least, and that I wasn't looking forward to attending this event, I was "won over" by the 4 scenes and actually want to see this movie now! The sequences shown to us featured TONS of energy, style and fun, and even though I was just hearing the songs for the first time, I was already getting into them. They were damn catchy, man!

Granted, I'm a nostalgic fan of disco music (yeah, I said it...it's "out there" now), so maybe that rubbed into this appreciation, but the one thing that kept running through my mind as I was watching the scenes was "This feels like a black GREASE", and I absolutely love GREASE! I don't mean that in a segregated way either, just pointing out the fact that the film features an all-black cast. Having said that, much like GREASE, that didn't seem to matter and the themes, emotions and songs featured in the movie, seemed to be able to gap any color, race or creed. Basically, it looked like a film that could be enjoyed by most anyone who digs a good story, great actors, fun songs and an infectious energy.

Finally, producer Mark introduced the director of the film to the stage, Bill Condon, and followed that with introductions of everyone who helped put the movie together including a number of the behind-the-scenes people, as well as the DREAMGIRLS themselves, Jennifer Hudson, Anika None Rose and the awesome-looking Beyonce Knowles. I wish I could have tossed my underwear onto the stage at that point, but alas, it didn't seem to make a lot of sense at that time. Their intros were followed by that of Jamie Foxx, who as per his usual style, strutted onto the stage and nabbed the mike from his producer.


-- click to enlarge --

Surprisingly, Foxx was heartfelt and quite genuine, as he explained how amazing he thought director Condon was to pull off such a wonderful movie (mixing dialogue and songs impeccably) and then downshifted right into his very funny impression of the publicity-shy Eddie Murphy (he does his laugh perfectly) and how even Murphy was apparently very happy about the movie as they were filming ("And Eddie doesn't get excited about much!"). He then said that the "toughest" part of the shoot for him was....he paused...."kissing Beyonce Knowles"! He then quipped..."because I was afraid Jay Z would kick my ass!" Fun times.

Handing the mike back to Mark, we were happy to find out that we were going to be shown another few minutes from the movie, but this time, all edited into a long clip of sorts, with all kinds of scenes from the film, under some background music.

The 3-4 minute clip was also very impressive and made the film look as fun as the full scenes that we were shown earlier. Applause followed, the lights were slammed on and everyone started shuffling back into the other room (like sheep, once more).

MY OVERALL IMPRESSION: Honestly, I was quite impressed by what I was shown here, just like I was with Dreamworks' two previous Cannes events, SHARK TALE and WALLACE AND GROMIT: CURSE OF THE WERE-RABBIT, and considering that I wanted nothing to do with this film or musicals before this event, that's saying something.

The film's energy, music and beautifully stylized costumes and production values, made me a convert, and even made me think Oscar for the movie, across the board. That's right, you read it here first. I ain't one to make predictions in the least, but I will go out on a limb and predict plenty of Oscar nominations for this December 2006 release, and will even go as far as this: Eddie Murphy will get nominated for Best Supporting Actor. That's right...I'll say it again: Eddie Murphy will get nominated for Best Supporting Actor.

Granted, I only saw one scene with the man and only 20 minutes of the film, but Murphy stood out like a well-dressed man at a nudist colony, and the film itself just screamed "Nominate me!". Of course, I'm just a webmaster with a penchant for alcohol, so don't put your house mortgage on the line on my word. All that to say: I'm glad I attended and here's hoping that you all will also be as impressed with this fun looking musical film as I was tonight.

Source: JoBlo.com

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