Sunday, January 13, 2008

Screening Log - Hairspray (2007)

John Travolta in a fat suit and a dress? Christopher Walken selling whoopee cushions and rubber chickens for a living? Zac Efron?!

Yes, the Hairspray re-make had all the makings of a very funny movie. The question was whether I would be laughing with director Adam Shankman, or at him... And whether he'd manage to combine John Travolta in a fat suit with a message about equality, without ruining both.

For my money, he's pulled it off - though admittedly, I went on cheap night. The cast is fabulous. When Nikki Blonsky smiles you can't help but smile back, and no one does a better cold bitch than Michelle Pfeiffer. John Travolta and Christopher Walken are surprisingly touching as Tracy Turnblad's parents, and Queen Latifah combines comic timing and immense dignity in a way that's perfect for her role.

Of course it's silly and camp, but it's the campiness and the frequency of big, fun song-and-dance numbers that saves the movie from drowning in gooey sentimentality, and keeps the audience from asking too many tricky questions. (Is being fat the same thing as being black in 1962 Baltimore? Is it? Is it really?) Plus, Zac Efron is dreamy. He's like a singing Barry Watson for a new generation.

ps: All jokes aside, I was actually impressed (and surprised to be impressed) by Zac "that kid from High School Musical" Efron in this movie. His "Ladies Choice" number and his role in "Without Love" are up there with the Travolta/Walken tango for fave scenes...

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