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Friday, December 1, 2006

Dreamgirls is Turning Me into a Total Faggot

posted by on December 1 at 11:28 AM

So if you haven’t heard already, the film version of the smash Broadway musical Dreamgirls is due on screens this Christmas. I never saw the show, haven’t heard the soundtrack, don’t like musicals, and am actively repelled by one of the film’s stars (that means you, Jamie Foxx.)

Nevertheless, I am nearly jumping up and down with excitement to see the film, and it’s entirely the result of the avalanche of hype being dumped on Jennifer Hudson, the former American Idol contestant who reportedly steals the film, leaving the cast’s high-wattage star power—Foxx, Beyonce, Eddie Murphy—sputtering in the dust.

For a taste of the intoxiciating buzz swarming around Ms. Hudson, check out this story in today’s New York Post. (This is one of a dozen such pieces that have landed over the past couple weeks.)

I happened to see the Oprah show featuring the Dreamgirls cast, and the segment featuring Jennifer Hudson was one of those Beatles-on-Ed Sullivan/LL Cool J-on-MTV Unplugged moments I won’t forget. The Beatles/LL Cool J parallel is an imperfect one, as Hudson didn’t perform on Oprah—she just came out for an interview alongside Beyonce and Foxx. Still, it was electrifying: Oprah had seen the film, the entire audience had seen the film, and everyone in the entire studio (with the notable exception of Beyonce; see the above link for more on that) was beside themselves with amazement and adoration for what Hudson achieves.

Best of all, Jennifer Hudson was as amazed as anyone. Here she is, this chubby young woman who got axed from American Idol and had been performing on cruise ships, who not only scores a role in a major film with major stars but totally steals everyone’s thunder and then some. “You’ve not just arrived, you’ve smashed through the wall,” said an adoring Oprah to Hudson, who sat there with the stunned smile of a lottery winner.

I love shit like this. Sports fans have their glorious goosebump memories, their Michael Jordans and 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey teams, and pop-art lovers have moments like the Hudson hype, when a chubby underdog comes out of nowhere and kicks everyone’s ass, including snooty glamorous skinny bitches like Beyonce.

Counting the minutes till Dreamgirls and Jennifer Hudson’s glorious Oscar speech…

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I remember thinking, "I'd bang her" when she was on AI. I will probably never see that movie though. I'd rather be waterboarded than sit through a musical with Eddie Murphy in it.

Posted by Mike in MO | December 1, 2006 11:48 AM

Beyonce is "skinny"? No way man, no way. She's got the sweetest bum cakes imaginable, and curves to match.

Posted by Matthew | December 1, 2006 12:02 PM

Actually, Beyonce lost a bit of weight for "Dreamgirls," if what she said on Oprah is true.

Posted by David Schmader | December 1, 2006 12:22 PM


You have to listen to the best song from the musical: And I’m telling you. I just listened to it the other night and damn I get chills every time I hear that song – it’s flat out, sing along with a hair brush in front of your mirror-rad. And I’ve heard the Dreamgirls film version is the best ever!

Posted by Andrew | December 1, 2006 12:30 PM

Andrew's right. as anybody who's watched any showtime at the apollo knows there's only two ways to sing 'and i'm telling you', magnificently or not at all. it's a talent show staple and has been for the better part of almost 40's a requirement that every true diva has to sing that song and patti's version of 'somewhere over the rainbow' in order to truly own the pearls. i once saw a man slay a showtime audience singing it entirely falsetto a la sylvester.
it completely defined jennifer holiday's entire career and it surely will now for jennifer hudson.
'mike in mo'.. it may help you to know that the character eddie plays in the movie is not going to be likable. from the trailer it looks as if his performance mode is the same as james brown paraody he did years ago on saturday night live.

Posted by riz | December 1, 2006 1:04 PM

Riz and Andrew: I watched footage on YouTube of Jennifer Holiday singing the song at the '82 Tony Awards, and yeah, amazing.

And from a dramatic standpoint, it's fucking genius: After being told she's been booted from the group, Effie delivers a song that makes it perfectly clear she's the most awesome performer in the world—which still fails to get her back into the group. Brilliant. Can't wait to see it with Jennifer Hudson and shot all cinema-like...

Posted by David Schmader | December 1, 2006 1:12 PM

David: A friend forwarded me your slog comments. Since I'm already a total faggot, and have actually seen the film, let me clear something up--it's all hype. Bland, overlong film from an overrated musical that should nonetheless make many drag queens very, very happy over the holidays. Hudson has a great voice, and she hits all the notes, and she's charming, but she cannot act. I felt the same way about her as I did about that other fat Idol reject, Frenchie Davis, who tried her had at Effie at the 5th Avenue a while back. When Hudson sings, she's impressively working her way through a stirring song called "And I'm Tellling You I'm Not Going." When Holliday sang, as is almost terrifyingly evident on the Tonys clip, SHE IS TELLING YOU SHE'S NOT GOING. Hudson? She's going, alright, and she's bummed about it, but she's glad someone gave her a big number. I'm not a Beyonce fan--and speaking of no acting ability...--but girlfriend outperforms Hudson with an "And-I'm-Telling-You-I-Made-the-Producers-Give-Me-A-Big-New-Song" solo sung at Jamie Foxx (who, yes, is fucking dreadful). Just thought I'd get that off my chest. The hype is driving me insane in the opposite way.

Posted by Steve Wiecking | December 1, 2006 1:30 PM

Steve: Dang. I was afraid the pre-hype might provide me with my most entertaining Dreamgirls related experience, and your post makes me wonder if that fear was justified.

And yet my fascination with the hype remains, almost more so now: Do you think the song is so monolithically great that anyone who sang/filmed it would be showered with praise? Or are media folk just happy to have something worth liking in the holiday movie rush and are overstating their enthusiasm?

Posted by David Schmader | December 1, 2006 1:49 PM


I just watched the same Jennifer Holliday clip on YouTube. Totally electric -the audience looks like they're going to jump out of their seats. It's the closest an atheist can get to religious ecstasy.

It deserves a revered Slog post of its own.

Steve Wiecking,

Saucer of milk to # 7, meow -kitty's got claws.

Posted by Andrew | December 1, 2006 3:12 PM

Andrew: Damn right.
David: Yes, anyone who sings that song and doesn't completely choke is going to get raves from people desperate to experience greatness. It's the same thing that happens when some diva tries her hand at "Rose's Turn" from Gypsy. People always want to believe they've really seen something even if they haven't. Troll through You Tube some more and you'll find faggots praising Tamyra Gray's robotic one minute version of "And I'm Telling You..." on American Idol. (Can we stop American Idol? Please?) At least Hudson doesn't mimic Holliday and chooses to do the song her own way--it's just not the most dramatically compelling way, however vocally adept. And it's shot in the movie as though she were performing "I'm the Greatest Star" from Funny Girl, which is an unfortunate homage (I know we have our Barbra differences, Dave, but when a 26-year-old Streisand sang, she WAS the greatest star, let's admit it). At least Hudson is very likable in the movie. Jamie Foxx--oh, god. The man is apparently convinced he doesn't need to do anything anymore to convey emotion because he's a prestige actor now. And Eddie Murphy? He's great. Should be in it more. Although I kept waiting for him to sing about how hot it was in the hot tub.

Posted by Steve Wiecking | December 1, 2006 3:50 PM

I'm stuck on the couch recovering from pneumonia, desperate for entertainment, and with all sincerity, this is what I love to see. Art fags seriously atremble over a musical. And a girl group musical at that. Life is good.

Posted by Mark Mitchell | December 1, 2006 4:40 PM

I'm stuck on the couch recovering from pneumonia, desperate for entertainment, and with all sincerity, this is what I love to see. Art fags seriously atremble over a musical. And a girl group musical at that. Life is good.

Posted by Mark Mitchell | December 1, 2006 4:40 PM

Dear Mark: Glad to help, and I hope you have a speedy recovery. xo Dave

Posted by David Schmader | December 1, 2006 4:55 PM

DS: When "Dreamgirls" was shown here at an SIFF invitational a few weeks ago, I attended with a "Dreamgirls" queer who had to explain everything to me about the show and why it matters. I had never heard of Jennifer Hudson, but by the time she finished singing "And I'm Telling You...", I was awash, a tub of wet laundry. Thank God for gay Bill Condon ("Chicago" - "Gods & Monsters") who pulled it all together. Unless you're a musically-challenged caged woman from Kazakhstan, you will love "Dreamgirls," and stop listening right now to anyone infecting you with catty predisposition.

Posted by A LA CREME GIRLZ | December 1, 2006 11:00 PM

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