starring Jamie Foxx, Beyoncé Knowles, Eddie Murphy, Danny Glover
screenplay by Bill Condon, based on the play by Tom Eyen
directed by Bill Condon
by Walter Chaw Hailed as one of the more innovatively-staged musicals in the modern pantheon of such entertainments, Dreamgirls, transferred to the big screen, is nothing special in the way of something trying way too hard to dazzle. It's the plain girl swathed in a gallon of makeup: there's so much misdirection that you actually try harder to dig up a foundation that can't bear the scrutiny. Said base for Dreamgirls is of course one of the most successful Broadway musicals (6 Tonys, 1,522 performances) from an era that counts "Les Miz", Andrew Lloyd Weber's dreadful operettas, and, what, "A Chorus Line"(?), among its chief rivals. You want to attribute its Broadway success to its spinning stage, choreographed and motorized $3.2M tower set, and coy deconstruction of bitch-goddess Diana Ross and her Supremes, but it's hard not to wonder if it merely benefits from the relative quality of its competition. Then again, its success is likely the by-product of a fairly consistent mass appetite for cookie-cutter musical biopics, which have been self-satirized to near-total inconsequence first by VH1's "Behind the Music" series, then to quickly-diminishing returns at the multiplex by Ray and Walk the Line.