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Stars: Jamie Foxx, Beyonce Knowles, Eddie Murphy, Jennifer Hudson, Danny Glover, Anika Noni Rose, Keith Robinson

Director: Bill Condon

Can you have too much singing in a musical? You'd better believe it. Especially when many of the songs here are screeched at high decibel level. Quieter ballads? Forget it.

Foxx, Murphy and Knowles (all doing their own singing) should be the stars of this thinly-veiled biography of Diana Ross and The Supremes. But instead the film focuses on Hudson, as the slightly overweight member of the group, who gets shunted aside as lead singer in favour of the beautiful Beyonce.

Hudson, in her film debut, is very, very good, but the movie's concentration on her story (and songs) quite unbalances what there is of the plot. It's like Tybalt suddenly being handed all the best lines in Romeo and Juliet.

The script has all the banalities of an old-style musical, but one of its key weaknesses is that you never know whether its dialogue is going to be spoken or sung until the actors open their mouths. 'Singing script' gets to be a bit tedious after a while, although some of the numbers are good - especially One Night Only - and the choreography has sensational snap and crackle.

All the stars sing well, even if Foxx and Knowles (but not the excellent Murphy) struggle with their unsympathetic characters - and the movie ought to make Hudson a star, although projects for her could prove difficult to find. She may have to be content with an Oscar as best supporting actress - even though hers has been made the central role.

David Quinlan

USA 2006. UK Distributor: Paramount (DreamWorks). Colour by De Luxe.
129 minutes. Not widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 1, Swearing 1.

Review date: 27 Jan 2007