I’m Telling You, You’re Gonna Like Me: “Dreamgirls” Musical Movie Mostly Works

Bill Condon’s Dreamgirls (B) is a musical backstage drama with style and panache, but it’s conflicted about whether or not the characters sing when they are not on stage. Musicals require a suspension of disbelief, for sure, but within the film, it should be consistent. So the stage numbers are great, and some of the personal ballads are too, just awkward. Beyoncé Knowles is compelling as the attractive star of a girl group, and Jennifer Hudson is an acting and vocal powerhouse as the woman behind the group’s hits who is unlucky in love and fame. Jamie Foxx turns in a nice performance, and Eddie Murphy delivers a sly dramatic turn that lights up his scenes. The film is pulpy melodrama with gorgeous production design and art direction, and the talented ensemble showcases acting and singing chops. If only Condon had figured out the musical conceit like he did with his Chicago screenplay, the film wouldn’t seem so self-conscious.