Hairspray

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hairspray

Nikki Blonsky may not be the best dancer, but her film debut was a success.

I was wondering why this movie was made. It was a John Waters film in 1988, became a play (or maybe it was the other way around)…and now it’s a different movie.

Well, just like that original film made RickiLake a star, I sure hope it does the same thing for Nikki Blonsky. She’s just adorably energetic and fun in the lead role. I read that she was discovered scooping ice cream at Cold Stone and has only acted briefly in high school. I’m guessing she’ll put the scooper down, and start picking up scripts. She’s solid gold, and is going to have a great career in films.

The opening song, Good Morning, Vietnam…oops, sorry. I’ve seen too many movies. Good Morning, Baltimore starts things off, and it reminds me of that great Bjork video where she’s dancing around the city.

John Waters didn’t have anything to do with this version (aside from flashing somebody in a cute cameo), but it’s the same story. It’s the early ‘60s, and a local TV dance show (think American Bandstand with more punch) is all the rage. The teens decide they’re going to integrate it.

That show is hosted by a person that has the stupidest movie character name since Pussy Galore – that would be Corny Collins (James Marsden). The other names I dug. There was Penny Pingleton (Amanda Bynes). I’m guessing that’s a play on Penny Singleton, the actress who played Blondie Bumstead in 28 movies and even more radio programs.

Amber Von Tussle is played by Brittney Snow. The rest of the talented cast includes Zac Efron, Allison Janney, Paul Dooley, Jerry Stiller (who was in the other film version), and Queen Latifah, who was so great in Chicago…I’m hoping she just sticks to musicals.

It’s always nice to see Christopher Walken dance, and to see Michelle Pfeiffer acting so devious.

At first I didn’t get the point of seeing John Travolta in a fat suit, playing a woman – but you soon get used to that distraction and enjoy the fact that, well…he seems to be having a blast.

Director (and choreographer) Adam Shankman (Bringing Down the House, The Wedding Planner), does a good job creating the vibe of an old school musical. The vibrant colors really make you feel like you’ve gone into a time warp.

Every time Travolta came on the screen, I had all kinds of weird thoughts (not those kinds of thoughts). At one point, I was wondering if he’s told his agent he’ll only do movies if dancing is involved (even Pulp Fiction, which you don’t think of when it comes to dancing, has him cutting a rug).

His role as a sad, self-conscious mom who refuses to leave the house, was played by Harvey Fierstein previously. One of the times Travolta was being especially touching, I thought about the possibility of an Oscar nomination. Not because the performance deserved it. It didn’t. I just wondered if it would be for supporting actor or actress (and what is it about men playing women that always makes me think of Tootsie?).

As much as I loved all the singing and dancing, I felt the social statements didn’t work so well. I also felt they really tried to keep it a lot of the sex out to appeal to the ratings board (it’s PG, not R). Think about how Grease had some of the similar themes (and Travolta), yet when you watch some of the dance numbers or listen to some of the lyrics…it got risqué.

I felt things got repetitive, and that got me thinking the movie was a lot longer than it was (it’s an hour and 45 minutes).

The weirdest experience was when I left the theatre. Since I missed the press screening because I was in New York, I saw it at a theatre there. When me and the girl I was dating left, she went on and on about how much she hated it. I asked how she could hate such a bubbly and fun film. She used the n-word, and went on about how she’s against interracial relationships. I told her she was racist, and brought up the fact that I dated a black woman in college. She was in shock. This all led to a two hour argument with me realizing she was a bit psycho. At least we only had a few more days in the Big Apple, and I was able to dump her when I got back home.

The woman gets an F.

The movie gets a B-. It played it just a little too safe to get a higher rating.