Bill Condon's adaptation of Dreamgirls has from the jump been touted as something fairly innovative and special, so it's a bit disappointing that the official trailer for the film plays rather conventionally, painting the film as a fairly standard rise and fall showbiz story. Disappointing though the approach may be, it cannot be terribly surprising given that the most recent crop of live action movie musicals have not exactly broken the bank--and so, despite the presence of proven-selling artists Beyoncé Knowles and Jamie Foxx, the trailer curiously obscures what could be one of the film's selling major points: Henry Krieger and Tom Eyen's classic score. Although the film has a number of mass audience-friendly, on-stage performance numbers in addition to the stage-convention book/recitative numbers, footage of said performance numbers are not allowed to play at any substantial length, as tunes such as Eddie Murphy's take on "Fake Your Way to the Top," Knowles' "Dreamgirls," and Jennifer Hudson's "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going" (along with instrumental excerpts of "I"m Looking for Something" and "One Night Only") are largely used as mere background score to expository dialogue passages. Also rather expectedly the trailer leans heavily on star power as the three above-the-title stars--Foxx, Knowles, and Eddie Murphy--and not fresher faces such as Hudson and Anika Noni Rose, dominate the run time.
That all said, glimpses of distinctive and highly promising qualities shine through, and they do their job in enticing the viewer to watch more. The most immediately striking aspect is the production and costume design, and as if it weren't already a foregone conclusion, John Myhre and Sharen Davis should be locks for Oscar nominations. As James "Thunder" Early, Murphy looks noticeably invigorated, and this could be the key for an escape hatch from the cuddly family film rut in which he's been stuck for years; he and his love interest Rose also display palpable chemistry. And while this taste offers very little of her delivering spoken dialogue, Hudson's expressive face as we see her character being gradually shunned as the trailer progresses makes one all the more curious to witness the whole of her heavily buzzed-about performance. But in the event the film itself falls short of the potential, the featured song excerpts (given a polish by the Underdogs) at least promises that a terrific new recording of Henry Krieger and Tom Eyen's enduring score is on its way.