Jennifer Hudson’s Oscar-Winning Performance Out on DVD
Though boasting an impressive cast which includes Jamie Foxx, Beyonce’ Knowles, Eddie Murphy, Danny Glover, Jaleel “Urkel” White, Anika Noni Rose and John Lithgow, all of the above are easily overshadowed by the Oscar-winning screen debut of Jennifer Hudson. The American Idol also-ran brings down the house as Effie Melody White (aka Flo Ballard), recreating the Tony-winning role originated on Broadway by Jennifer Holliday.
Ostensibly inspired by the real-life story of The Supremes, this “Up from Nothing” saga, set in the Sixties, revolves around the trials and tribulations of the members of an all-girl singing group. Beyonce’ plays Deena Jones (aka Diana Ross), while Ms. Rose plays Lorrell Robinson (aka Mary Wilson), and Sharon Leal plays Effie’s eventual replacement Michelle Morris (aka Cindy Birdsong).
The crib sheet of the storyline reads as follows: Curtis Taylor, Jr. (Foxx), a Cadillac dealer/fledgling manager who signs them as a back-up group for headliner James “Thunder” Early (Murphy), discovers The Dreamettes, a promising trio trying to sing their way out of the slums of Detroit. After touring on the Chitlin’ Circuit, the girls eventually hit the road on their own, seeking to generate crossover audience appeal as The Dreams.
But before they find fame and fortune, full-figured Effie is pushed first out of the spotlight, then out of the group entirely, in favor of the slimmer, more appealing Deena. The group goes on without Effie who bottoms out financially, emotionally and professionally before ultimately exacting a measure of revenge by launching a successful solo career.
Jennifer Hudson’s coming out party!
Excellent (4 stars)
Rated PG-13 for sex, expletives, and drug use.
Running time: 130 minutes
Studio: Paramount Home Entertainment
2-Disc DVD Extras: Exclusive Jennifer Hudson Performance, extended musical numbers and alternate scenes, Beyonce’s screen test, Beyonce’ music video, feature-length documentary, Anika Noni Rose audition, plus several featurettes.