Here I am, sitting on an airplane. We're almost ready to land, but this has been a long and painful flight. For whatever reason, I feel like crap, and the turbulence doesn't help. I barely got through my T.G.I. Friday's club sandwich, and the flight attendants aren't coming around with nearly enough water. I'm also tired, and as I'm traveling east to west, the time zones are not in my favor. I also have to work tomorrow morning, and I expect I'll get about six hours of sleep if I'm lucky. At least I got to watch Hairspray, even though it did cost me two dollars for headphones I didn't need (shortly after purchasing said headphones, I found my old iPod headphones).
Hairspray is a fun little film. It's isn't Chicago and it isn't Moulin Rouge, but it is entertaining in its own right. Sure, it's about racial integration, but the message is so obvious and at the same time so cartoony that it's hard to think of Hairspray as anything more than a mindless musical adaptation that wants to be so much more. Ambitions aside, it's a harmless, fun and entertaining movie with some good songs and interesting dance sequences. It won't win any awards, but you have to give props to director Adam Shankman, who up until this point has given us the crap no one dreams of, like Bringing Down the House and The Wedding Planner. Shankman's slick, retro look to the film works perfectly.
In a movie that stars John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, Amanda Bynes, James Marsden, Zac Efron and Queen Latifah, it's impressive that the real star of the show is Nikki Blonsky in her first ever theatrical performance. Blonsky plays the lead, Tracy Turnblad, an overweight but optimistic girl who loves to dance and sing and become a member of a hit local television program called The Corny Collins Show. While the host of the show wants to integrate the whites with the black dancers who get a once-a-week (or was it month?) feature, the station manager (Pfeiffer) will hear nothing of it - especially if it jeopardizes the chances of her daughter winning the annual Hairspray award. But when Tracy manages to get on the show and rises in popularity, the Hairspray crown is put in jeopardy as she mixes it up and crosses racial lines.
Blonsky is terrific and her chipperness (sic) through the whole thing (she had to drink a lot to stay that upbeat for so long) really makes the movie. Her songs are terrific, and while I never thought I'd like a movie about a - let's be honest - fat girl shaking her ass, she is really entertaining to watch and overshadows everyone else. Pfeiffer, however, turns in her best performance in quite a while, and proves she still has the hot factor going for her. Catwoman 2, Ms. Pfeiffer? Walken is also quite good, and gets to lay down a few dance moves here and there.
Unfortunately, Travolta is just downright distracting. Why the man of musicals was cast to dress up in a fat suit and play a woman is beyond me, as it's such an artificial gimmick in otherwise honest little flick. His character is just so out of left field that after the novelty wears off, it gets old real quickly.
Aside from Travolta, however, Hairspray is an enjoyable musical. Again, it won't win any awards and the racial message is too obvious for its own good, but Hairspray definitely comes recommended to any musical fans.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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