Friday, January 11, 2008


Alrighty folks, it's been a while. Allow me to crack my knuckles.

I just saw this movie yesterday on dvd since I truly don't get to the movies much....the last movie I saw at the theater was Transformers, if that's any indication. I won't bother comparing this to the original John Waters version however, like many critics did, because hey, we all know there IS no comparison to the camp of a Waters film. But let me assure you, this little gem stands quite remarkably on it's own.

Hairspray, as if you didnt know, is the story of pert and portly Tracy Turnblad (rising star Nikki Blonsky) whose bouffant hairdo and luminous smile belie the depth of her personal talents. The gal can sing, dance, and do so w/ a flair that was henceforth only reserved for black society in the sixties. Tracy has an obsession w/ a local 'dance tv' program called The Corny Collins Show and she will literally do almost anything to perform on the air. After a fruitless audition, during which Tracy is belittled and insulted by the current stars of the show due to her weight, all seems hopeless until our heroine finds herself in detention with a group of black students who seem to use the (unsupervised?) time to...well, dance. Thru the window, Tracy is discovered in all her soulful splendor by a current cast-member of the Tv Show, Link Larkin...who is also the object of her hitherto unreturned affections. Needless to say, an appearance on the Corny Show is inevitable as is her subsequent fame and pupularity. Unfortunately, things go awry when station manager Velma Von Tassel (Michelle Pfeiffer) attempts to sabotage Tracy at the height of her success and prevent racial 'integration' on the show as well. Though the story never seriously rises above sixties sattire, there is also a political agenda in the mix as the recurring subjects of racial harmony are addressed.

Performances in this film were all very good, some were great. The casting was carefully and lovingly handled w/ a few surprises thrown into the mix. Nicky Blonsky was sufficiently perky and sweet at Tracy. She's quite a little firecracker so the story centering on her was never a problem. Two of the most central characters, Tracy's Parents, were played by Christopher Walken and John Travolta, the latter decking himself out in hideously realistic drag to play Edna. Both shined in their respective parts, especially where singing and dancing were concerned. Queen Latifah and Michelle Pfeiffer were also extremely good, even if they didnt necessarily exhibit a purely original turn. We have seen both of them in these types of roles before. Supporting players Amanda Bynes, Zac Efron, and Elijah Kelly were all good, some standing out more than others but all sufficiently over-the-top and campy. The biggest surprise for me was James Marsden who was the epitome of charm and wit as Corny Collins with an exceptional singing voice. I had no idea Cyclops had it in him to be so likeable!

I really appreciated the direction and the musical numbers as well. There was evident modernizing w/out a complete departure from the original feel of the John Waters version (oops, I did it). John Waters even gave us a great little cameo in the beginning, which made me smile. I especially enjoyed the tongue in cheek humor of 'Nicest Kids In Town', the sweet and funny romance of 'You're Timeless To Me', and of course the contagious fun of 'You Can't Stop the Beat'.

Let me sum up by saying that I am more than pleased at the direction the movie industry is going with musicals. If there is anything that the success of Chicago has shown us, it's that audiences still crave the surrealistic mayhem of the movie musical and with great endeavors like this one and Tim Burton's Sweeney Todd (dark but lovely I'm told), the genre is finally back on the map. Actors like Michelle Pfeiffer, Renee Zelwegger, and James Marsden are joining the ranks of Gene Kelly and Katherine Grayson as ones that can be counted upon to deliver great performances along with their hoofing and crooning. And that's just fine with me.

My rating: 8.5/10


Blogger turborip said...

Yeah, I enjoyed HAIRSPRAY way more than I thought I would, though I realized afterwards that none of the songs 'stuck' with me. That might be my only complaint.

7:51 AM  
Blogger jewlover2 said...

Let me help out:

Ever since this old world began
A woman found out if she shook it
She could shake up a man
And so i'm gonna shake and shimmy it
The best that i can today

'Cause you cant stop
The motion of the ocean
Or the sun in the sky
You can wonder if you wanna
But i never ask why

( I love that part)...hee hee

8:11 AM  

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