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Blu-ray Review: Dreamgirls: Director’s Extended Edition

October 18, 2017

By John Corrado

Over a decade after first releasing the film in theatres, director Bill Condon has gone back to his 2006 musical Dreamgirls to finally release the more complete cut of the film that he worked on, before the studio put out the slightly condensed theatrical version.

Adding back in some extra scenes and lengthening a few of the many musical numbers, the previously unreleased version of the film provides the main selling point for the Dreamgirls: Director’s Extended Edition, a shiny new Blu-ray release that also includes the original theatrical cut, and comes in an attractive DigiBook package that includes glossy pages featuring both images and song lyrics from the film.

Adapted from a 1992 Broadway show, Dreamgirls takes place in 1960s, Detroit and offers an alternate musical history that tells the story of the Dreamettes, a fictional girl group made up of singers Effie White (Jennifer Hudson), Deena Jones (Beyoncé Knowles) and Lorrell Robinson (Anika Noni Rose).  The Dreamettes are given their big break when they sign with Curtis Taylor Jr. (Jamie Foxx), a car salesman turned fledgling record producer, who gets them a gig backing R&B star James “Thunder” Early (Eddie Murphy).  But when the group breaks out on their own, Curtis ultimately comes between the women when he makes Deena into the lead singer and forces the stronger-voiced Effie into the background, leading to success for one and poverty for the other.

Despite falling short of a Best Picture nomination, Dreamgirls won former American Idol contestant Jennifer Hudson a much deserved Best Supporting Actrress Oscar for her showstopping breakout role, and she remains a highlight of the film.  Eddie Murphy was the Best Supporting Actor frontrunner for his career-shifting dramatic role, but lost to Alan Arkin for Little Miss Sunshine, in what I remember to be a pretty major upset.  The film was subject to another Oscar night upset when none of its three numbers that were up for Best Original Song – “Listen,” “Love You I Do” and “Patience” – managed to take home the prize, with the trophy instead going to that forgettable song from An Inconvenient Truth.

But Oscar wins and losses aside, Dreamgirls remains a glitzy and massively entertaining musical that is carried by excellent performances and incredible musical numbers, and in some ways paved the way for Bill Condon’s latest hit Beauty and the Beast.  Whether you choose to watch the original cut or the extended version, and fans who are already well versed in the material are encouraged to check out the latter, the film is a crowdpleaser that maintains a good amount of energy throughout.

The Blu-ray also features some new footage from Jennifer Hudson’s auditions, including clips of her singing “Can He Even Sing” and “What About Me,” as well as her audition and screen test for “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going.”  Although it would have been nice if this release had ported over all of the bonus features from the initial 2007 Blu-ray release, the Dreamgirls: Director’s Extended Edition is still a worthwhile and nicely packaged set for fans of the film.

Dreamgirls: Director’s Extended Edition is a Paramount Home Media Distribution release.  The director’s cut is 140 minutes and the theatrical version is 130 minutes, both are rated PG.

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