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Review of “Hairspray” (2007) PG 117min

December 1st, 2007 by Maxim · No Comments · 4,782 Views


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A number of stars are cast in this musical comedy: John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, Queen Latifah, Jerry Stiller… Directed by Adam Shankman. Lesslie Dixon wrote the screenplay for the movie. John Waters was the author of the original 1988 screenplay.

The plot: 1962. Moderately obese and rather short, but cute Tracy Turnblad (Nikki Blonsky), a Baltimore high school student, is obsessed with becoming one of the dancers on the local Corny Collins Show and dreams of being with the lead dancer of the show, Link Larkin (Zac Efron). Tracy’s mother (John Travolta!) is a laundry woman and thinks that fame and publicity may hurt her daughter, but her dad (Christopher Walken) supports her. But the show’s production manager Velma Von Tussle (Michelle Pfeiffer) casts her own daughter Amber (Brittany Snow) in the lilly-white-only show and tries to maintain that status quo. Tracy with her new friends, Meybelle (Queen Latifah) and Seaweed (Elijah Kelleys) to fight for the rights of all.

The good: The lyrics of the songs were clever and funny. Music and songs was pretty good and I expect that soundtrack would be pretty hot on CD and online downloads. My favorite songs were “I Can Hear the Bells,” “Welcome to the 60’s”. All actors have done a great job in creating this entertaining musical. John Travolta is so good in drag role. Nikki Blonsky was great as Tracy, really proving that looks are not as important even for a celebrity show as is character and personality. She’s adorable and brave. These are the quality that helped her bond with people across racial boundaries of the 1960s. It was wonderful how people organized to fight for their rights and equality. And best of all, turned out making the show multi-ethnic, multicultural and otherwise diverse was a win-win for everybody! This movie is a celebration of diversity. Also, considering how many times and how long the mass dancing and other scenes have to be rehearsed (how did actors manage to radiate so much good energy?), the job the entire crew has done is really commendable. Very spirited movie. Michelle Pfeiffer was a great middle-aged nasty woman. Queen Latifah and Christopher Walken were perfectly cast. Better then Rent and comparable to Dreamgirls.

The bad: Everyone in this movie sings almost non-stop. Although songs were pretty good, they seem to never end while story doesn’t progress much. On several occasions Elena asked me to fast-forward through the song. I agree, it was a bit of a torture to wait for some songs to end. If the story doesn’t unfold, all you watch is singing and dancing. You might just as well flip the channel to MTV and watch music videos there. I think this movie can work much better as the stage production (with an intermission in the middle considering an almost 2 hour length). For that reason I am glad I didn’t see it in theatre and waited for the DVD release.

Random notes:

  • John Waters, the original writer, was cast as a neighborhood flasher.
  • The movie makes everything look so happy and jolly, but don’t forget that this is 1962: although 15th amendment to the constitution of 1870 (The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude) guaranteed the right to vote to all citizens, blacks could not vote until mid 1960s in most States. The KKK was still a very powerful organization.
  • Queen Latifah looked younger.
  • John Travolta got a chance to dance too!

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Tags: Comedy · DVD · Movies · Musicals · Romance

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