Hairspray! My Reviews 19 SEP 2007

HairspraySo Chantelle and I finally got around to watching Hairspray at last, a movie shes wanted to see for some time now. The film is an adaptation of the Tony Award-winning 2002 Broadway musical of the same name, itself adapted from John Waters’ 1988 comedy film.

This version of Hairspray is directed and choreographed by Adam Shankman and stars John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, Amanda Bynes, James Marsden, Queen Latifah, Brittany Snow, Zac Efron, Elijah Kelley, Allison Janney, and introduces newcomer Nikki Blonsky as Tracy Turnblad.

Note to all guys: this movie is a musical, so if you couldnt stomach Grease, Moulin Rouge or even Chicago, remember to take a comfy pillow to the theatre with you. Just remember that you partner will more than likely disown you.

Set in 1962 Baltimore, the film follows a “pleasantly-plump” teen named Tracy Turnblad as she simultaneously pursues stardom as a dancer on a local TV show and rallies against racial segregation. The local TV show in question is non other that the Corny Collins Show, a dance show that is hugely popular amongst all the local teenagers. Tracy and her best friend Penny Pingleton don’t miss a single broadcast, and when the opportunity arises to audition for the show, Tracy has no hesitation in applying, despite her rather unattractive (though comical) build. Of course, Tracys overweight, shut-in mother (John Travolta) is against it from the start, but her joke shop running dad (Christopher Walken) is behind his daughter every step of the way.

Despite the machinations of the shows producer, Tracy does manage to get hired in the end, causing a major headache for the shows director and sponsor thanks to her very short and rather stout appearance, but an even bigger headache when it her firm belief in racial integration becomes apparent. Not afraid to say what she thinks or how she feels, Tracy quickly becomes a headache for the station.

Just to set the background, the USA is on the verge of a racial revolution, but for now it is strictly whites for whites and blacks for blacks, highlighted by the fact that the Corny Collins Show dedicates a special show once a month for blacks, namely Negro Day – where the white and black kids dance on the same floor – but separated by a length of rope.

However when the cancellation of Negro Day gets announced, Tracy takes it in her own hands to rally support from the black community and take things further, even at the cost of her own security.

By now, you are thinking that this sounds like a rather serious movie, don’t be alarmed. Though the underlying story may be serious, the film is best described as a light, feel-good comedy that will have you smiling throughout the movie, be it at the wonderfully crafted lyrical content of the songs or at the plentiful humorous scenes about in the movie.

Nikki Blonsky is terrific in the role of Tracy Turnblad, portraying a truly likeable girl that anyone would find difficult to fault. Her hair and mannerisms make for most of the humour and feel-good atmosphere of the movie, and she does a really great job in her first big acting role. John Travolta and Christopher are equally as brilliant and humorous in their roles as you would expect these stars to be and Michelle Pfeiffer puts in a great performance as the evil station manager.

Actually the whole cast puts on a great show, with both the singing and acting being equally good. Of course, this being a musical, almost all the actors needed to do their fair bit of singing, and it comes off highly polished and professional.

The rewritten and touched up soundtrack for Hairspray is a piece of brilliance, with the songs retaining a light, catchy feel to them, with just a hint of irony or humour edged into them. And because this is a musical, you can instantly tell where most of the films attention to detail was spent. That said, the visuals are just as sumptuous, with the movie following the 1960s setting and vibe perfectly.

In fact, apart from it being a musical, there is nothing bad I can say about it at all. You cant help but enjoy this movie, which to me feels very much like a spiritual successor to Grease, and I admit to thoroughly enjoying it.

If you love musicals in the vein of Grease or are looking for a great date movie, then Hairspray is definitely the one for you!

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About Craig Lotter

South African software architect and developer at Touchwork. Husband to a cupcake baker and father to two little girls. I don't have time for myself any more.