Dreamgirls

  • Review Date: April 30, 2007
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Musical
  • Release Year: 2006
  • Running Time: 131 minutes

Common Sense Media says

Broadway + Beyoncé = big, boomy musical fun.
  • Review Date: April 30, 2007
  • Rated: PG-13
  • Genre: Musical
  • Release Year: 2006
  • Running Time: 131 minutes

Age(i)

2
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Quality(i)

 

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Rise, fall, and rise again of a girl group, as individuals and a unit; ambitious, naive, and eventually cynical though wiser, they lie and betray one another and rediscover hope and generosity in the end.

Violence

Characters argue vehemently; brief fighting.

Sex

Characters appear in underwear and skimpy stage clothing; sexual seductions are made via song; very sensuous dancing and some suggestive lyrics (e.g., "We only have till dawn"); some kissing and embracing (in dramatic silhouette); child born out of wedlock.

Language

Language includes repeated uses of "s--t," a couple of "hell"s, a couple of angry, dramatic exclamations ("No f--kin' bulls--t!" and "You can't even take a s--t without me wiping your ass"); period use of "negro."

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

To indicate the dangers of the "entertainment industry," the film shows lots of cigar/cigarette smoking, drinking (hard liquor at parties, sometimes from hidden flasks, suggesting addiction, and often to the point of drunkenness), and taking drugs (marijuana, cocaine).

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that tweens and teens who like musicals, American Idol, and Beyoncé will be eager to see this much-hyped Broadway adaptation. Several scenes of drug abuse are used to symbolically link excessiveness, addiction, and depression in "show business." Images include snorting lines of cocaine and smoking marijuana. Characters also drink heavily (often to drunkenness and sometimes hidden from others), smoke cigarettes, argue loudly, and engage in a fight or two. Some relatively mild -- but quite colorful -- language (mostly, several uses of "s--t" and "hell").

Parents say

Kids say

What's the story?

Directed by Bill Condon, who wrote the screenplay for Chicago, Dreamgirls is based on the same-named Broadway musical that opened in 1981 and famously borrowed from the real-life saga of Diana Ross and the Supremes (here the group is called the Dreamettes, then the Dreams). Naïve young women are manipulated by scheming, ambitious men, and only late in their lives realize that their original friendship is most important. Embracing the music of its moment, from Motown to pop to disco, Dreamgirls also deals with the racism that helps shape the girls' careers. As they strive to break through to mainstream (white) audiences, they also negotiate with their own identities. The film opens at a 1962 Detroit talent contest, where the Dreamettes -- Deena (Knowles), Lorrell (Anika Noni Rose), and lead singer Effie (Hudson) -- get what seems like a once-in-a-lifetime chance to sing back-up for the already fading, James Brown-like R&B star James "Thunder" Early (Eddie Murphy). His wily manager, Curtis (Jamie Foxx, playing a character inspired by Motown Records founder Berry Gordy), sees in the girl group the chance to cross over. Though Curtis is romancing Effie and appreciates her phenomenal talent, he also believes that the group will be more saleable if fronted by Deena, who's more "conventionally" beautiful (again, closer to a white standard), as well as less demanding and more willing to compromise in order to achieve her "dream" of stardom. The switch not only angers James (who turns to drugs), but also upsets the women's longstanding dynamic.

Is it any good?

QUALITY
 

DREAMGIRLS is a big, boomy musical, energetic and well-crafted. But it has something else on its mind as well. The latest in a series of Broadway shows translated to the big screen just in time for Oscar nominations, it benefits from casting actual singers: Both Beyoncé Knowles and erstwhile American Idol contestant Jennifer Hudson are brilliant, whether belting songs, fine-timing comedy, or conveying heartbreak.

While its plot is never surprising, Dreamgirls highlights the cost of ambition within an industry in which race and gender shape opportunities and expectations for artists, producers, and consumers. Effie's insistent "blackness" limits her commercial appeal, and her story, reeling from joy to tragedy to triumph, exposes how such limits are a function of both blatant and subtle forms of racism. Whether peole navigate, internalize, or confront it, they're always affected by it in some way. When, for instance, Effie learns that Curtis is not only dropping her from the group but has also been sleeping with Deena, her stunning number, "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" (with the poignant lyric, "You're gonna love me"), speaks directly to the film's most compelling theme: that broader U.S. culture and politics have long exploited, feared, and loved black culture and politics. In this potent, gorgeous, and devastating moment, Effie declares her need and her defiance. Here, the movie shows how history and art pervade our present.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the film's messages about the entertainment industry. How do the characters change when fame arrives? How does the movie link drug use with the difficulties of the music business?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:December 14, 2006
DVD release date:May 1, 2007
Cast:Beyonce Knowles, Eddie Murphy, Jamie Foxx
Director:Bill Condon
Studio:Paramount Pictures
Genre:Musical
Run time:131 minutes
MPAA rating:PG-13
MPAA explanation:language, some sexuality and drug content.

This review of Dreamgirls was written by

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  • ON: Content is age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • PAUSE: Know your child; some content may not be right for some kids.
  • OFF: Not age-appropriate for kids this age.
  • NOT FOR KIDS: Not appropriate for kids of any age.

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Quality

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging, great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging, good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging, good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging, okay learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Teen, 13 years old Written byKeds43@aol.com April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 

Jennifer Hudson!

Jennifer Hudson is amazing in this!
Teen, 16 years old Written bymiss chikki April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
QUALITY
 
Adult Written byjjj@aim.com April 9, 2008
AGENot rated for age
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