Given that screenwriter-director Bill Condon has gone on record about assembling a super-deluxe director's special edition DVD of Dreamgirls in time for Christmas 2007, it would have been unsurprising--even understandable--if DreamWorks Home Entertainment issued a mere barebones stopgap release for the Oscar-winning film's initial release into the home market. Happily, the studio has rewarded the film's many admirers with a two-disc special edition that, while not exactly the ultimate "showstopper edition" that its title states, will satisfy the fans' desire for substantial supplements and even have the film's detractors looking forward to any future release. (For the budget-minded, a stripped-down single-disc edition has also been released.)
Condon (or, for that matter, anyone involved in the production) does not supply a running commentary track, which he is presumably reserving for that future edition, but that doesn't mean this release is wanting in behind-the-scenes insight. In fact, the second disc's "Building the Dream" documentary is about as comprehensive a behind-the-scenes feature as one could hope for, covering everything from the original 1981 Broadway production to the film's New York premiere in its two-hour-plus (!) run time (make that "almost everything," as the film's lavish press set visit event--a rather seminal moment in the film's journey, I believe--is conspicuously skipped over). That would be enough to tide over fans anticipating the upcoming definitive release, but there are also shorter featurettes on costume design, theatrical lighting, and film editing; a selection of auditions and screen tests (though, it must be noted, not including Jennifer Hudson's--I guess some things had to be saved for later); an extensive still gallery; and, most intriguingly, pre-visualization sequences for the musical numbers shot with dancer stand-ins.
Condon is reportedly restoring a lot of the excised music and other scenes for an extended cut in the future DVD release, but thankfully he hasn't precluded their out-of-context inclusion here. While the alteration of most of these scenes for the theatrical cut were understandable, a couple stand out as particularly disappointing to be left on the cutting room floor: the original, dance-heavy version of "Steppin' to the Bad Side," which was perhaps too West Side Story for test audiences but was choreographer Fatima Robinson's one pull-out-the-stops showcase; and the Hudson/Keith Robinson duet "Effie, Sing My Song," which, contrary to the documented reasoning behind its deletion, would not have been exhausting or numbing coming so late into the film. That said, seeing scenes such as these in the deleted scenes section just make one more eager to see how they play in Condon's extended version.
Specifications: 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen; English and French 5.1 Surround; English Dolby Surround; English and Spanish subtitles; English closed captioning. (DreamWorks Home Entertainment)