by: Adam Shankman
Starring: John Travolta,
Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, Queen Latifah,
James Marsden, Nikki Blonsky, Zac Efron
Released by: New Line Cinema
Short: Candy colors, infectious music,
energetic dancing and a message make Hairspray an instant classic.
Hairspray is the Word
morning, Baltimore!” belts Tracy Turnblad in Hairspray’s
opening number, her voice sunny and her spirit more so.
Even the rats, the flasher and the bum brighten her day
as she dances to high school. It’s a veritable
Fantasy Land on the Chesapeake, set in candy-colored,
bouncy-skirted, slick-haired 1962, when teenagers used
words like “groovy” before they became clichés.
(Nikki Blonsky) will need her optimism to realize her
dream: dancing on the Corny Collins Show on
local TV, where teenagers rock to the latest tunes. Talent
notwithstanding, Tracy is—how shall we put this?—fat.
And fat girls—how shall we put this?—don’t
get on Corny Collins, as prim station owner
(and one-time beauty queen “Miss Baltimore Crabs”)
Velma von Tussle (Michelle Pfeiffer) explains. African-Americans
don’t either, apart from monthly “Negro Day,” and
therein lies the heart of this story.
on its own, even if you haven’t
seen the Broadway musical it’s based on or the
1988 John Waters film that inspired the musical. The
dancing is electric, the story engaging, the music fizzy
and bubbly, and there’s a message. By
rights, Hairspray should become for our generation
what Grease was to the late ‘70s.
John Travolta of that film also gets top billing here,
as Tracy’s mom, Edna.
He speaks like Carol Channing and sings like Cher, but
there’s a special spark when he’s dancing—he’s
still got the moves, even with 100 extra pounds and makeup
slathered on with a trowel. Travolta’s surrounded
by a top-name ensemble cast including Pfeiffer, Queen
Latifah as the hostess of Negro Day, and Christopher
Walken as Edna’s husband, Wilbur. The stars of
tomorrow—Zac Efron of High School Musical,
Amanda Bynes, Elijah Kelley and Brittany Snow—make
up the younger set, while James Marsden is charming and
knowing as Corny.
film really belongs to Blonsky, though. Her own story—she
was scooping ice cream at a Cold Stone Creamery on
Long Island before landing this role—is
not so unlike Tracy’s. We couldn’t be happier
for either of them.