Getting the hell out of Mayberry has such a positive effect on my mood and outlook that I really need to do it more often. Kevin and I decided to make the 1:00 movie in Indianapolis yesterday (and a big raspberry to AMC Theater's 4:00 matinee cut-off policy), and then browsed at Half-Price Books for a while. Oh, and we found a new thrift store next to HPB, run by the Jewish Women's something-or-other club, that's full of great clothes (all clean and in nice shape) and assorted housewares. I scored a caramel-colored corduroy jacket with a gorgeous striped silk lining for EIGHT BUCKS, and Kevin found a Dilbert tie for Daniel for 99 cents.
We debated between Dreamgirls and The Good Shepherd and finally settled on Dreamgirls, figuring it would be more fun to see on a big screen. I'm so happy we picked that movie because Oh. My. God. I adore musicals and splashy Broadway shows, and as some of you know, few things make me happier than Motown, so having the two combined with a fantastic cast would have been worth even the full ticket price. Beyonce and Jamie Foxx were okay--about what you'd expect--but Eddie Murphy truly surprised me. Honestly, I didn't think he had that kind of emotional performance in him.
Jennifer Hudson, however, knocked my socks off. I remembered her from American Idol two seasons ago as a woman with a big voice but definite crazy eyes, a sort of diva-in-training. Whew. She's way more than that. Amazing, powerful voice, but even better than that, girlfriend can act. I can't remember the last time I actually got chills watching someone in a movie; she was absolutely riveting every time she was onscreen. Beyonce who? What about Jamie Foxx in Ray? Point the camera back at Jennifer! About halfway through her big number ("And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going"), I had tears running down my face. I couldn't help it; every time I thought I'd gotten myself under control, I'd well up again. The entire theater broke into applause at the end of that song, so I'm only a little embarrassed to admit her singing affected me that deeply. If she doesn't break your heart, too, well, I'm sorry, but you have the emotional capacity of the Grinch before hearing the Whos sing on Christmas morning.
Storywise, I think the movie loses a little steam after that point, and some characters aren't as well developed as they could be. Also, if you're not a fan of musicals, some of the form's cliches might bug you, such as people singing dialogue at each other. Despite the few drawbacks, go see it for Jennifer Hudson. Just be better prepared than I was, and take a kleenex. Maybe several.