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Hairspray (Widescreen Edition) (2007)

Musicals & Performing Arts movie directed by Adam Shankman

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Big Songs, Big Dance Numbers, Bigger Hair!

  • Nov 28, 2007
Rating:
+3
As much as I enjoy the original "Hairspray" featuring Ricki Lake, there's just something about this new version (a blend of the original film and the 2002 Broadway musical) that I really love. I won't go so far as to say that I prefer this version to the original, but it definitely does not stand in the 1988 film's shadow. Newcomer Nikki Blonsky takes the reins as Tracy Turnblad, the sweetly rebellious chubby girl who takes a stand (or a dance step) against prejudice and racism in 1962 Baltimore. All Tracy wants to do is become a featured dancer on the Corny Collins show and woo Link Larkin (Zac Efron, of the "High School Musical" films). In order to do that, she has to audition for the show. After running into a roadblock called Velma Von Tussel (the devilishly funny Michelle Pfeiffer) and not getting to be on the program, she literally dances her way on to the set when she learns a few dance moves from Seaweed (Elijah Kelley), a young black man she meets in school detention. As the story rolls along, Tracy sees not only racial discrimination, but discrimination of anybody who's just a little bit different than the "norm" in Baltimore.

This story, on the surface, seems very light and happy. However, it deals with the very real and very serious issue of discrimination on a number of levels. The race issue is at the forefront, but there are a few other issues at hand. Tracy's mother (gamely played by John Travolta, although his makeup looks very Muppet-like) struggles with the embarassment of being very overweight. Tracy's friend, Penny (a very perky Amanda Bynes in a limited role) feels as if she's living in a prison at home. Link has to make a decision about what's right for everybody and what's right for him career-wise. Then there's Von Tussel, her daughter (Brittany Snow of "John Tucker Must Die"), and the local TV station unwilling to integrate the Corny Collins show despite the demands of Collins (a slicked-up James Marsden) and Motormouth Maybelle (Queen Latifah, in a surprisingly excellent performance).

The music and dance numbers are excellent, with amazing performances by Blonsky, Kelley, Efron and even Christopher Walken (as Tracy's father). The songs hearken back to the "wall of sound" created by Phil Spector. They are massive and highly enjoyable to listen to. John Travolta does an excellent job with his vocals, but instead of hearing a woman, I can't help but hear "Grease" each time he sings in this film. That's not a bad thing, though, and most folks unfamiliar with Travolta's past musical numbers will probably not even notice it.

Director Adam Shankman keeps everything moving at an easily digestable pace and pegs the actors' delivery of one-liners and wicked tunes such as "New Girl In Town."

There's a little language, a lot of sexual innuendo, one scene of seduction (although it is hilariously one-sided) and some mean-spirited actions that may not be suitable for some youngsters, but I personally have no problem with my six-year-old watching this movie. The race issues may be a little bit too heavy for younger viewers to comprehend, but I think that most of them will pick up on the generalized issue that some people hate others who are different whether it be due to skin color, weight, or something else.

Keep an eye open for a cameo from Ricki Lake and John Waters. Also watch for Jerry Stiller (Tracy's father in the original film) as Mr. Pinky.

I highly recommend this film to anybody over the age of five. Youngsters will be drawn to the wonderful music and dance numbers. Older children and adults will pick up on the sneering humor and the issue of discrimination.

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More Hairspray reviews
review by . January 04, 2013
Going into this film, I'd never seen the theatrical version and in fact, knew nothing more other than "Good Morning, Baltimore". I haven't had as much fun with a film as I had with this 2007 edition in quite a long time. It's sweetly inspiring in its main character's brash naivete and so touching in its send-up of the 60s. Christopher Walken was pure genius and James Marsden was a delight, not to mention every other casting choice. This is the definition of a feel-good movie and one I'll be revisiting …
review by . December 02, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
This movie is just plain fun. John Travolta demonstrates his considerable talents by playing the obese Edna. The entire cast is marvelous, particularly Nikki Blonski, a newcomer, as Tracy and Amanda Bynes plays the sweet, at first naive Penny to a T. Oddly, Michele Pfeifer didn't seem up to the rest of the cast, but didn't drag them down either.     In any event, the cast works, the script works, the movie works.     It's a message movie with a light heart. …
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Kendall Fontenot ()
Ranked #17
Despite looking extremely cool, I have to admit that I'm a dork. I grew up on the outskirts of the small town of Oberlin, LA. I have since relocated to the Lake Charles, LA area.I love my home state … more
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Wiki

It's rare that a movie captures the intensity and excitement of a live Broadway musical production while appealing to a broader movie-going audience, but the 2007Hairsprayis an energetic, powerfully moving film that does just that. A remake of the 1988 musical filmHairspray, the newHairsprayis a film adaptation of the 2002 Broadway musical and features more likeable characters than the original film and an incredible energy that stems from a great cast, fabulous new music, and the influence of musical producer Craig Zadan. What remains constant throughout all three versions ofHairsprayis the story's thought-provoking exploration of prejudice and racism. Set in Baltimore in 1962, the film opens with chubby girl Tracy Turnblad (Nikki Blonsky) singing her heart out in a rendition of "Good Morning Baltimore" that, while admittedly a bit too long, sets the farcical tone for the film. Viewers quickly become immersed in Tracy's teenage world of popular television dance shows, big hair, the stigma of being different, and the first hesitant steps toward racial integration within a segregated world. The Corny Collins (James Marsden) television dance show is a teenage obsession in Tracy's world and Link Larkin (Zac Efron) is every girl's dream partner, so when a call for auditions goes out, Tracy skips school to try out, but is rejected by station manager Velma von Tussle (Michelle Pfeiffer) because of her large size and the threat of competition for ...
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Details

Director: Adam Shankman
DVD Release Date: November 20, 2007
Runtime: 117 minutes
Studio: New Line Home Video
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