Sunday, June 22, 2008

Applying A Second Coat...

Now, I have to admit that when the 2007 film of the Broadway musical version of Hairspray came that I was of the mindset that I wouldn't like it. After all, I fondly remember the John Water's film of 1988 - featuring fresh-face Ricki Lake and the unmatchable Divine. Surely, I felt, that this film based on a show based on a film would not stand up.

I was wrong.

I just finished watching this musical, with its all-star cast, and I found my feet tapping many times. Newcomer Nikki Blonsky is a charmer as Tracy Turnblad. Michelle Pfeiffer chews up the scenery rather nicely as Velma Von Tussle. Queen Latifah is perfect as Motormouth Maybelle. James Marsden is smooth as Corny Collins. John Travolta in drag as Edna Turnblad wasn't a stellar performance for me, but it worked in the tradition of the "man in drag as the mom". Christopher Walkin and Amanda Bynes seemed to be under-utilized though, but what can you do? And Zac Efron as Link - well, seemed a bit too "high school musical" to me (boy is gonna need to break that mold to avoid the typecasting).

Really, the music was very much a huge factor for me. The songs were original but fun, and very much in the style of the 60's when the film is set. I've always been a musical fan (some of my favorite films are musicals) and that really helped move along a storyline I knew pretty well in a new, different and entertaining way.

Finally, I hope that the film's message, like the original Waters film as well, isn't lost on the new generation who went to the film for the likes of Efron and the other young talent. There was a time, not so long ago really - just prior to my own life, when segregation was very much a real thing we were struggling with. This country has come very far in the past 50 years, but we can't allow racism and differences create barriers. We really need to come together, and that's the hidden message in this film. As the final number goes, "You Can't Stop the Beat".

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