Thursday, August 02, 2007

movie minute

Hair Galore: First things first: Let's get the original Hairspray, directed in 1988 by John Waters, out of the way. The film is not so much a musical as it is a movie with sometimes too long scenes showing characters dancing. It's 1962 Baltimore and desegregation is one of the main themes. Most notably desegregating the popular Corny Collins tv show. This is a show whiter than snow and "shake my groove thang" Tracy Turnblad is just the one to get the show colorized. There's something else going on in the film as well and that is being comfortable enough in one's own skin to get on national tv to shake it like a tailfeather. In today's "everyone wants their 15 minutes" culture, it's a timely theme. The original sags a lot and doesn't have verve or fun.

Fast forward 14 years later and the film becomes a Broadway musical. The 2007 film of Hairspray is based on the original and the musical. This time around instead of Ricki Lake, newcomer Nikki Blonsky takes on Tracy's toe tapping and hip hopping. Whereas Lake's Tracy was pushy and too competitive; Blonsky is perky and determined to win without resorting to petulance or arrogance.

John Travolta fills Devine's shoes as Edna Turnblad and I have to tell you I never thought that Travolta would make such an appealing and cheek pinchable woman. Whereas Devine's Edna was harsh and unpleasant; Travolta's is a waif of a housewife with only good intentions.

The film is pure fun much like last year's High School Musical in which one of that movie's stars appears in this film as Link Larkin. The numbers with the exception of two are full of pizzazz and energy. There are some leftovers in this film from the original: Jerry Stiller who played the father in the original plays Mr. Pinky in this version; Ricki Lake plays a talent scout near the end; and John Waters plays a flasher. One other thing very worth noting is one of my favorite young actresses Amanda Bynes. Bynes plays the best friend of Tracy, Penny Pingleton and Bynes's winsome face and facial expressions are a delight. She should have a great career ahead of her.

Hairspray is full of fun and finger snapping and although the ending does differ from the original it does make sense especially in today's atmosphere of total inclusion. This is a film amid the string of summer sequels worth seeing more than once.

Bags of popcorn: (out of 5) 3.75


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