Dreamgirls DVD: Review By Brian Gallagher

The movie is one of the best of 2006 and one of the best musicals in the genre.
  • OVERALL
    4.5
    SUPERB
  • Feature
  • Extras
  • Replay Value
THE GOOD
The movie is one of the best of 2006 and one of the best musicals in the genre.
THE BAD
Some of the features are rather useless.
THE FEATURE
During the holiday season of 2006, the movie biz was agog with buzz from the latest from superb filmmaker Bill Condon: his new musical Dreamgirls, based off the hit stage play that was, supposedly, based off the trials and tribulations of the real-life hit group, The Supremes. Although the similarities between this story and The Supremes story are insanely similar, the real Supremes have always contended that this play and movie have nothing to do with them. It's not like it really matters any, though, because this outstanding movie stands out as easily one of the best movies of 2006, to put it lightly, regardless of their surprising omission from the Best Picture race at the Oscars. This musical still stands out among the genre's finest and is a surefire must-see.

The two things the Academy didn't slight this movie for was its music and acting...even though one of their three songs (of five nominated) for Best Original Song DIDN'T win the Oscar. That aside, the movie is peppered throughout with a plethora of marvelous and powerful songs and it still shocks me that they couldn't, at the very least, give them an Oscar for the Original Song category. The best part about these brilliant songs is the way that writer-director Bill Condon so effortlessly blends the songs into the story of the movie. It's all such a seamless experience and you don't normally see song-to-action transitions as smooth as this anywhere.

Of course, the acting is certainly noteworthy with a superb cast with the likes of Jamie Foxx, Oscar nominee Eddie Murphy, Danny Glover and the vastly underrated Keith Robinson, who should make a huge splash after his wonderful performance here. Of course, then there are The Dreams, with Beyonce Knowles, Anika Noni Rose and the phenomenal Best Supporting Actress Oscar winner Jennifer Hudson, in just a startling film debut. There really isn't a weak performance in the whole movie, folks. Everyone has just a glove-like fit for their roles and we learn that the old dog Eddie Murphy still has some wonderful new tricks, along with some marvelous new talent discoveries in Keith Robinson and Jennifer Hudson. It's just an overwhelming breadth of talent in this cast.

You can't say enough about writer-director Bill Condon as well. He's been around for awhile now, and he has some amazing movies under his belt, but this could be his greatest accomplishment. I still would just barely give Chicago, which he just wrote and didn't direct, the slightest edge over this movie (even though they're both 5-star movies), but this could be his most accomplished movie, since he writes and directs... superbly.

I really can't say anything more without just sounding like a suck-ass here. I can't help it. I just love this astounding movie. Period.
THE EXTRAS
They certainly don't skimp on the features in this two-disc set. The first disc only gives us a few features to whet our appetite for the second disc. They start us off on the first disc with a bunch of Extended and Alternate Scenes, 13 in all. These are all from the musical numbers in the flick and these are all basically the full versions or different versions of all these songs. It's kind of funny because the third song, from Tiny Joe, is basically a rip-off of Hendrix's Red House, one of my favorite songs. The Fake Your Way To the Top one has a really cool segment that I'm surprised they didn't include in the movie. There's some really cool stuff here all throughout and this 35 minute segment is well worth a look-see. The only other thing we get on the first disc is the "Listen" Music Video by Beyonce Knowles.

The second disc starts us off with a full-length doc*mentary entitled Building the Dream that runs only a few minutes shy of the actual movie's runtime. The doc is broken down into nine segments but you can play them all at once if you choose. They start with the origins of the play on Broadway, then going into how they started working on the film. The first two segments flew by in less than ten minutes and then they start to get longer and longer. It's not a bad thing at all, as this whole thing moves forward quite nicely and is put together splendidly. We get an amazingly thorough look into pre-production, production and post-production, with interview exerpts from many more people than you're used to in these sorts of things; choreographers, assistant choreographers, music supervisors etc. right along with the writer/director and the big stars. We get a lot of funny moments and technical info and a very in-depth look at the total cycle of making a movie. Sure, it's almost as long as the movie itself, but if you loved the movie as much as I did, then you'll have a hard time turning this off.

Dream Logic: Film Editing is up next and features writer/director Bill Condon and editor Virginia Katz talking about the incredibly painstaking process of editing this musical. It's only about four and a half minutes long, but we gets some nice tidbits of info on the editing process.

Dressing the Dreams: Costume Design is basically the same thing as the last feature, except with Sharen Davis, the costume designer, and her trade. We see a bunch of her original sketches and then what the actual clothes turned out to be and such. It goes a little long, I think, going through costume after costume and her thoughts on them, but there is some nice stuff here in this eight-minute deal.

Center Stage: Theatrical Lighting is the same as the first two, except with the technical lighting designers, Jules Fisher and Peggy Eisenhauer, and their trade etc. etc. At this point, I'm almost wondering if they've filmed a segment with EVERY crew member for this DVD, and that maybe somewhere in a Dreamworks basement is a segment about the craft of gaffing or dolly gripping. This one is pretty boring, with these people taking their jobs WAY too seriously, one that is surely taken for granted... but one that we don't necessarily want to hear about a lot. Anyway, it's about eight and a half minutes and I'm really not sure why this is here.

Auditions and Screen Tests are up next, finally breaking this weird pattern. We get three different ones here, with Beyonce Knowles' screen test first, and it's pretty weird, for as big of a star (musically anyway) as she is. It looks like it's done in some cheesy basement with her basically in costume against a sole spotlight backdrop. The next two are auditions, one with Anika Noni Rose and the other is the audition for the choreographer, Fatima Robinson. The Rose one is interesting since it's a song that wasn't included in the movie and she's quite impressive here. The choreographer Robinson's reel is retty damn cool too, with everyone dancing away to Steppin to the Bad Side. Some cool stuff here, folks.

We get some Previsualization Sequences next and these are a mixture of sketches and the rehearsals and I just don't get why these are cool. We get seven of these in all, and they're just weird. Sure we get some lines and other stuff that wasn't in the movie... even though we have someone else saying the lines, probably the people doing the rehearsals. It sounds pretty weird and I don't really get the point of these.

Lastly we get an Image Gallery which is broken down into four different galleries: Storyboards, Costume Designs, Production Designs and Art Department Archive. The storyboards are quite detailed and it's rather stunning to see how accurate they were to the movie. Of course, we've seen a lot of these before in those Previsualization Sequences, so yeah. The rest of the images, the Costume and Production Designs are quite uncanny and the Art Department Archive has a bunch of record covers and posters that were displayed in the movie.
THE VIDEO
The disc is presented in the widescreen format, enhanced for 16x9 televisions.
THE AUDIO
The sound is handled through the Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound format.
THE PACKAGE
A nice design here. We get a big title card with the big names, and a great shot of Knowles, Hudson and Rose from behind as they face the spotlight, and a notice for their Golden Globe Best Picture win. The back has a big shining critic quote, along with a nice synopsis and some random shots from the movie, with a nice special features box along with the billing block and tech specs.
THE FINAL WORD
This didn't win the Oscar for Best Picture in 2006 and wasn't even nominated and once you see this you'll see that this was one of the biggest travesties of the year. A simply amazing, unrelenting movie that shouldn't be missed by anyone.

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Comments (1)

  1. Dan

    Barf.

    4 years agoby @dan1Flag