Directed by: Adam Shankman (aka coolest last name ever)
Starring: Zac Efron, Nikki Blonsky, Amanda Bynes, John Travolta, Queen Latifah
Hairspray is the story of larger-than-life (and that's not a weight joke) Tracy Turnblad. The scene is 1962 and white America is about to go through the shock of integration. All the cool cats wanna do is dance. Tracy's an overweight teen with dreams of starring on the local dance program, The Corny Collins show, and at the same time romancing high-school cutie and star Link. Not everyone's happy about it...any of it.
How could anyone take a light hearted look at the civil rights movement and the emancipation of us females from domestic hell and do the right way? Whoever wrote Hairspray, that's who! John Waters, famed Hollywood identity, wrote the screenplay for the 1988 film (starring Rikki Lake) which became a hit broadway show. Waters is an interesting character and if you have time, read up on him!
So back to the topic at hand, Hairspray 2007. I was SO skeptical about this movie. I've seen the '88 flick once and didn't have the fondest memories of it. This new version has a cast of spoiled and pretty teen stars, John Travolta in a fat suit and worst of all, singing! I've never been a lover of musical cinema but there have been a few exceptions of course (Moulin Rouge, Sound of Music).
However, once that bright opening scene with newcomer Nikki Blonsky singing her little heart out with "Good Morning Baltimore" began, I knew I would be hard pressed to dislike this movie. Nikki has screen presence that would make Jennifer Hudson green with envy. She was so sweet and charming yet I had a lot of respect for the character. It's a challenge for any actor to pull off super sweet and be taken seriously at the same time, but somehow she pulls it off no worries.
I haven't seen High School Musical (except clips on YOUTUBE) so once again, I wasn't expecting much yet Zac Efron blew me away with his sincere and passionate performance. John Travolta managed to somehow drop that attitude he always takes with him in roles and become a truly fun (and even believable) character. You know, I could actually go on and on about everyone in this film...Queen Latifah's singing and acting, Elijah Kelley's amazing dance moves, Chris Walken managing to actually act like he was in love with Travolta in a fat suit and seem totally genuine, Michelle Pfeiffer's evil as sin and whiter than white Mumsy/Station Manater etc etc etc (By the way, dear god how does she still look like that...I'm starting to believe she sold and or ate her first born!)
The look and feel of the film was inspiring. It was 1962 on acid. I really liked that of the cheesiest and funniest (not to mention blunt) lines I've ever heard in a film popped up and instead of making me cringe, they made me laugh. "Negro Day" was truly classic.
There were so many serious, underlying issues covered in this film with one overall message..."Get over yourself and have some fun"! I really think Waters (when he wrote Hairspray) intended for America to get just that message.
I absolutely loved this film and even after forking out $65 for the Gold Class Gala Night Screening (phew) I would still shell out another $15 for viewing #2. When John Travolta said, "Seeing this movie will make you happy", he wasn't lying!
4/5 Afrotastic Stars!
ps Get the soundtrack...must get the soundtrack...toe...still...tapping.........