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  Publicity Stills of "Hairspray"
(Courtesy from Warner Bros)

Genre: Musical/Comedy
Director: Adam Shankman
Cast : John Travolta, Nikki Blonsky, Elijah Kelley, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, Amanda Bynes, James Marsden, Queen Latifah, Brittany Snow, Allison Janney, Taylor Parks
RunTime: 1 hr 37 mins
Released By: Warner Bros
Rating: PG

Official Website: www.hairspraymovie.com

Opening Day: 23 August 2007


It’s 1962 – the 50’s are out and change is in the air. Tracey Turnblad, a big girl with big hair and an even bigger heart, has only one passion – dancing. Her dream is realized when she wins a spot on a local TV dance program, which is transformed overnight from outsider to teen celebrity. But can a trendsetter in dance and fashion defeat the program’s reigning princess, win the heartthrob Link Larkin and integrate television without messing up her hairdo? Only in the musical version of the John Waters cult classic, HAIRSPRAY!

Movie Review:

“Hairspray” seems destined to join the ranks of passably mediocre musicals (I can barely remember the songs) save for one publicity stunt, which successfully generated a gross amount of hype for the show – John Travolta in drag. Playing Tracy Turnblad’s grossly overweight mother Edna, you’re never let to forget that it’s ol’ Mr Grease Lightnin’ down there beneath the layers of aesthetic obesity, attacking his fortunately few music numbers with a half-hearted enthusiasm and still managing to sound like a 30 year old man.

Nevertheless, the man does deserve an award for still managing to remain twinkle-toed enough to outdance his cinematic partner, Wilbur (Christopher Walken), who, flailing arms and legs notwithstanding, does generate some hilarious scenes in his turn as a small-town novelty shop owner. It’s probably worth the ticket price alone to watch Walken and Travolta serenade each other with a genuinely creepy ode to marriage, complete with corny fantasy-dance sequences.

Egged on by her bumbling but well-meaning dad (“You’ve got to think big to be big!”), Tracy lives out her dreams of dancing on TV’s primetime slot and hopefully snagging her dreamy blue-eyed boy Link, who unfortunately, being a veteran of the highly-dubious “High School Musical”, can’t really sing or dance to save his life.

Other misses in the cast include the awful and vapid Amanda Byrnes who plays best friend Penny in yet another annoying and ingratiating blip in her nonexistent cinematic career. However, with the initial nastiness out of the way, I was generally impressed with the overall casting of the movie, which showcased various powerhouses such as cool-cat James Marsden, who plays the polished showhost who’s too revolutionary for his time, Queen Latifah as Maybelle, giving a restrained performance reminiscent of “Chicago”, and Michelle Pfeiffer vamping it up as hissy villain Velma.

While the songs are generally forgettable, the dexterity of the dance sequences will blow you away. Showcasing the best of 60s’ dance fads, whites and blacks alike bop, pop and swing their way into the collective public’s hearts and memories, proving to all yet again that music is a true unifier of people.

Remaining big on heart and verve throughout, this feet-tapping bonanza is a pleasant enough way to spend 2 hours in airconditioned comfort, ensuring you leave with a big smile on your face. Shades of the horror that was the racial inequality riots which plagued America during that era are evidenced, but none too blatant as to mar your enjoyment of what is essentially a feel-good fest. Fueled with high energy and lots of infectious goodwill, this movie is a heart-thumping affirmation of how you don’t have to fit in to win.

Movie Rating:

(Big Girls Are Beautiful)

Review by Ninart Lui

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