a sybarite in paradise
reviewing the food & entertainment pleasures of Honolulu
If you like movie musicals, you’ll love Hairspray. Hairspray is based on the Broadway musical that was based on the 1988 John Waters movie that had some music in it. This version is lighter and fluffier than the original, but a lot of fun too. There are many laughs and it’s a rollicking good time. Racial integration is still a major theme, but given a lighter treatment.
Nikki Blonsky is a delight as Tracy Turnblad. She exudes enthusiasm and dances her way into your heart. John Travolta plays Tracy’s mother Edna in a fat suit. There are many funny moments that come out of this. Other reviews have said that after the first few minutes you forget John Travolta is in there. I never did, but that’s what made some of the moments so funny. Travolta’s take on Edna gives us a nicer, meeker and more shy version than Divine did in the original. Christopher Walken plays Tracy’s father Wilbur, a joke shop owner. His scene with Michelle Pfeiffer as Velma Von Tussle (Tracy’s nemesis) trying to seduce him is hysterical.
The rest of the cast is great too. James Marsden is adorable as Corny Collins, host of the TV show Tracy eventually dances on and works to integrate. Zac Efron is Ken Doll cute as Link Larkin, Tracy’s love interest. Queen Latifah plays Motormouth Maybelle, the Negro Day host of the Corny Collins show and record shop owner, with aplomb. Amanda Bynes is Tracy’s best friend Penny Pingleton. Elijah Kelley dances his way into Penny’s heart in his role as Seaweed, son of Motormouth Maybelle. Jerry Stiller, who played Wilber Turnblad in the original, is Mr. Pinky, owner of a plus sized shop that sponsors Tracy.
The movie is directed and choreographed by Adam Shankman. I noticed that the camera work was more dance oriented. There were still a lot of cutting back and forth, but often we got whole shots of people dancing. I love Chicago from a couple of years ago, but one of my complaints was that you really didn’t see much real dancing because of the editing. Other directors could learn a lesson from Shankman in this respect.  
Don’t go to Hairspray expecting a wacky John Waters film. Go expecting a fun, entertaining musical. Watch for Waters in the beginning as a flasher. Ricki Lake (Tracy in the 1988 movie) also makes a cameo appearance as a William Morris agent at the end.
Monday, July 23, 2007