I loved John Waters’ original “Hairspray” starring Ricki Lake and his assortment of oddball actors. One of my most vivid memories is the morning after wildly celebrating my 21st birthday – completely hungover at my friend Cathi-Sad’s place, watching “Hairspray” and nursing a massive headache (and a bucket in which to throw up the last remaining bits of Southern Comfort from the night before (wow there has been a lot of body function talk around here lately)).
So when the original movie was turned into a Broadway musical I was a bit leary of it. Even more leary when the musical based on the movie was being made into a movie! Nothing can compete with the original! I thought. The original is subversive and snarky and yet hopeful all at the same time!
What was I thinking? This new rendition, directed by Adam Shenkman (a GREAT choreographer who also helps out with “SYTYCD”), is simply magical. While the campy bite has been somewhat removed from the original movie, this new glossy version just tugs at your heartstrings and makes you fall in love. It’s a FANTASTIC movie and I’ll definitely be buying it at some point in the future.
It’s 1962 and change is in the air in Baltimore. Tracy Turnblad, a big girl with big hair and an even bigger heart, has only one passion–to dance. She wins a spot on the local TV dance program “The Corny Collins Show” and is transformed overnight from outsider to irrepressible teen celebrity. But can the trendsetting Tracy win the heart of teen-dream Link Larkin and stand up for what she believes in despite the program’s scheming stage manager?
The cast is amazing (in no particular order): John Travolta (in drag as Tracy’s mother Edna), Michelle Pffeifer, Queen Latifah, Zac Efron (as Link Larkin), Christopher Walken, Amanda Bynes, Nicki Blonsky, James Marsden, Brittany Snow and even TWITCH from this season’s SYTYCD (who was a background dancer in a few scenes, no doubt getting hired after his initial SYTYCD experience a couple years ago). Cameos included director Shenkman, composer Marc Shaiman, Ricki Lake and John Waters himself. In addition to the amazing cast, the SOUNDTRACK to the musical is outstanding. Only a couple songs were not my style (either due to being too long or not catchy enough for me).
Certain things stood out for me. 1) Amanda Bynes – she was PERFECTLY CAST as Tracy’s best friend Penny. That wide-eyed innocence was perfectly played and she made me smile everytime she was on screen. 2) Queen Latifah – her performance of the song “I Know Where I’ve Been” was heartbreakingly wonderful. 3) Zac Efron – not bad, Troy Bolton, not bad. The boy shows he can do more than be the High School Musical heartthrob by being the…uh….Hairspray heartthrob. But he was good. 4) Michelle Pfeiffer – she was fabulously campy but not over-the-top. She no doubt made John Waters very proud on her take of the role originally played by Deborah Harry (of the 1970s music group Blondie). 5) The dancing – WOW – the dancing! I loved every minute of every dance routine! 6) John Travolta’s Baltimore accent – was spot on and made me giggle. And while his fat suit was sometimes glaringly obvious, at other times I completely forgot it was Travolta in a fat suit (specifically – when he was dancing).
It’s hard to find fault with this movie. Just a GREAT GREAT movie. Almost perfect. If it had kept some of the fangs of the original it WOULD have been perfect.
4 1/2 Negro Days out of five.
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