There is no single person or story to centre the drama around, and Murphy's performance, though widely liked and indeed now Oscar-nominated, is for my money flatly written with very little of the high comedy octane of which we know he is capable.
Joy is defined as Dreamgirls, an ecstatic dose of pure top-down Motown tight-harmony effervescence that takes a hit Broadway musical about a Chicago girl group and turns it, miraculously, into a Hollywood delight.
There's so much excitement around the opening of Dreamgirls... that I know I'm going to bring down the room by saying I think it's just okay. Well, Jennifer Hudson is more than okay.
Fulfills the ecstatic promise inherent in all musicals -- that life can be dissolved into song and dance -- but it does so without relinquishing the toughest estimate of how money and power work in the real world that song and dance leave behind.
As much as I appreciated the performances from the terrifically talented cast -- as much as I liked Dreamgirls -- I didn't love it. Maybe it was just a little too slick and over the top for its own good.
If what you value in a movie musical is visual extravagance and a show-stopping performance or two, Dreamgirls will leave you with a feeling of absurd, unreasoning happiness.