Good morning Baltimore!"
First of all: musicals are not my thing. The latest The Producers remake equalled poison for upcoming musical movies due for release.
Hairspray, however, is a different story. The film is clichéd, predictable, cheesy, corny beyond all belief, childish, features a few annoying teenager heart-throbs with no acting skills - but it is fantastic!! I don't think I could possibly suggest a better way to joyfully spend two hours of your time.
Hairspray is a knockout movie musical that provides two hours of sheer enjoyment and pleasure. Its production values alone warrant a screening. The whole technical aspect of this film is top notch; showcasing scenes of magnificent musical numbers, cute characters and catchy music.
As the film opened I stared in disbelief at my screen and wondered what I had gotten myself into. The first song is really cheesy but colourful and joyous. What was to follow was a film of laughs, delight and absolute enjoyment!
Tracy Turnblad (Blonsky) is an overweight local teenage girl with dreams of becoming part of her favourite television program. Despite her weight she's a lively, dedicated dancer. When Tracy's dreams are finally realised, trouble follows when one of the show's managers (Pfeiffer) strongly resents an overweight dancer being featured in the cast. To make matters worse this is also the time for many other social situations - i.e. integration of African Americans on mainstream television programs.
The film succeeds phenomenally because of its technical merits. First of all, the cast. John Travolta was unmistakable but barely recognisable as he plays an overweight mother. Because we all know Travolta as being part of the classic musical Grease, it came as no surprise that the hit musical of this generation would feature a cast member of his stature. I am very familiar with Travolta's work, but I've never known him to play a woman so well. I was laughing whenever he delivered a line. His make-up was enough to send me into stitches when he first appeared. The accent and voice only made it even more hilarious.
I detest a lot of the teenage heart-throb talent (I use the term loosely) that became involved with this project. I refer to people like Zac Efron and Amanda Byrnes who are sometimes painful to watch. But in amidst all the delightful musical chaos it's very hard to recognise them. And hence my initial concerns with the cast were quickly alleviated.
The direction and cinematography are sublime. As a result the film looks great. Filled with colourful imagery, typical bright costumes and traits from the 50s that are quite authentic (my mother confirmed this as we were watching). But my hat goes off to those who took the time and effort to choreograph all the dancing. It's filled with energy and is great to look at. Needless to say, my brain hurts when I think about how long it would have taken to get all the dancers in such perfect sync (I can't imagine how many outtakes hit the cutting room floor).
Hairspray ended up being an audience favourite for 2007. The music is lively, the imagery is colourful, the film is entertaining.
This is why audiences go to the movies: to be entertained. It's corny, it's cheesy and it's childish but at least it's fun. Hairspray is a triumph for movie musical/comedies. I hope that we'll see more energetic films like these to follow.