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I just saw Hairspray the movie at the 5th Avenue Theater in
Seattle--the same theater where Hairspray the musical premiered five
years ago. It could be that I am just dizzied by the dashing good looks
of Zac Efron, but the magic that was produced on stage by the original
Hairspray cast has transfered flawlessly to the big screen.
I couldn't have asked for more. Nikki Blonsky premiered beautifully as the spunky and voluptuous Tracy Turnblad. John Travolta delivered. Christopher Walken was charming and hilarious. Queen Latifah was "big, black, and beautiful." Michelle Pfeiffer--perfectly obnoxious...the list goes on.
The candy colored costumes and thrilling choreography were so enjoyable, and even the more serious parts of the film (though there are very few!) were touching and sincere.
The only thing I wished had been included was the song "Mama I'm a Big Girl Now." While it would have been a great addition, other big song and dance numbers carried the film along just fine.
I caught myself smiling like a buffoon more than once. A must see for musical lovers--or anyone who just likes to have a good time.
Had it not been for a free pass to an advance screening, I must admit
that my friends would have had trouble getting me to see 'Hairspray.' I
don't mind musicals but 'Hairspray' didn't seem like something I'd
enjoy. Not for the first time in my life was I wrong.
'Hairpsray' is about tolerance, integration and acceptance of others. The film uses the racial divide between blacks and whites but the subtext of the film is Heterosexuals and Homosexuals. 'Hairspray' viciously lampoons bigots and reserves specific devastation for Ultra-conservative religious zealots, figures of authority and WASPs. The satire is white hot (Alison Janney steals every scene she is in), the music catchy, the movie's spirit is irreverent.
I had no problems with the cast and their performances. John Travolta isn't bad and when he gets his chances to dance he's great fun. Christopher Walken and Travolta have a song and dance number duet that rates among the best moments of the film and isn't to be missed. Queen Latifah adds some dignity and balance while Michelle Pfeiffer plays a terrific screen villainess. Amanda Bynes has few lines to deliver but gives perfect comic deadpan when she does for excellent comic effect. Keep a sharp eye out for the hilarious John Waters cameo during the opening number.
Of recent major movie musicals, this is easily better than 'The Producers,' (better comedy and music) and last year's 'Dreamgirls' (weaker songs but better pacing and strong beyond the first half). Although it doesn't have the star power or scale, I also prefer it to 'Chicago' -- 'Hairspray' takes itself less seriously and not many movies have me laughing and smiling from start to finish. If you're looking for a little pure counter-culture escapist fun, 'Hairpsray' is your movie.
As a fan of the stage musical, I was worried that the film might not
measure up - but they hit this one out of the ballpark! Bright, bouncy
and joyously hilarious! A big smile hit my face as soon as it started
and I didn't stop grinning until the end of the credits.
I haven't heard a press screening audience applaud after musical numbers since "Chicago" - and they cheered! The huge cast is uniformly terrific. Travolta, Pfeiffer and Walken are a hoot and Nikki Blonsky couldn't be more perfect.
The performances, script, lyrics, sight gags and costumes wage an all-out assault on your funny bone. Even the set dressing gets laughs!
This is the movie musical that Grease, Rent and Dreamgirls should have been.
Not that I'm surprised that I liked it but yes that I liked it as much as I did. Keeping some of the lovely John Water garishness but mainstreaming it enough to make it mainstream. John Travolta in the Divine part is truly divine. He went for it and played it for real. I thought it was actually moving at times and the illusion works, beautifully. Michelle Pfeiffer opening a new chapter in her career, the thin as a rail, gorgeous, middle age bitch. Great fun to watch. Christopher Walken, adorable. I had hoped a bigger splash of a dance number between Travolta and Walken - after all they were playing husband and wife in a musical and when are we going to see that again. Their moments together are, how can I put it? Nice, very nice. Nikki Blonsky inherits Riki Lake's oversize heroine with gusto and lots of energy. Allison Jenney, as usual, steals every moment she's in. Alas, far too few, and John Waters plays a quick cameo as a Baltimore flasher. What else do you want out of life.
So far I've seen this movie twice and both times the audience was
involved 100%. "Hairspray: The Musical" is the definition of a feel
The storyline has been tweeked a bit from the original film. Whereas the original film had Sonny Bono's Franklin Von Tussle as the main antagonist, this one has Velma Von Tussle (Michelle Phieffer) as the head adversary; now seen as the station manager for the TV station airing The Corny Collins Show. Velma's goal is to ensure that her daughter, Amber stays Miss Hairspray in the face of the rising success of Tracy Turnblad (played wonderfully by Nikki Blonsky).
The musical numbers are fantastic, and while there's less of an emphasis on the dancing which was a big part of the original film, it doesn't detract from the wonder of the musical sequences.
Other differences is the take on the individual characters. Whereas Ricki Lake's Tracy was brash and confident, Blonsky's Tracy is more subdued. John Travolta, as Edna gives the character the sensitivity that wasn't evident in Divine's portrayal.
Although still done in connection with John Waters, it does lack Waters edginess, making an already mainstream Waters film even more mainstream for family audiences. However, the cast and the direction more than makes up for this.
Obviously a big-budget, flashy musical remake of a John Waters film is
never going to be as subversive or as comically edgy as its
predecessors, but one of the good things about HAIRSPRAY is that it
never intends to be. It fully embraces the cheesy, over-the-top aspect
of a movie musical from frame one, a trait that most other current
films of its type try to avoid. In a welcome change from the summer
drudgery of explosions and CGI, this film is a pure feel-good crowd
pleaser where excitement and energy rise above all.
Everyone in the cast gives able performances; even Travolta who, in drag and a fat suit, seems at first off-putting, beginning a one-joke "hey I'm a man in a dress!" performance, quickly grows into his own as Edna does, becoming the most crowd-pleasing character by the film's end. It's a pleasure to see a former GREASE-r returning to what made him famous, but Travolta proves surprisingly agile in the comedy department, especially during his song and dance numbers.
The real enjoyment here, however, and the truly great performances are given by the younger members of the cast. Every single teenager in the film, from the leads to the chorus boy in the back of the room are injected with an unshakable, undeniable energy that reaches through the screen and captivates the viewer. This rings true especially for the film's two major finds: newcomers Nikki Blonsky and Elijah Kelly. Both of them have that instant star quality, a charisma and charm that make them instantly likable. Kelly displays simply astounding singing and dancing skills, while Blonsky easily carries the entire film of her shoulders, becoming the heart and soul of the movie with one hip thrust.
HAIRSPRAY has nothing much to offer besides two hours of entertainment and escapism, but it offers it in spades. It is a pure joy to watch from beginning to end and a welcome change of pace from the big-budget action film that surround its release. Yes, it's a musical and yes, it's over-the-top, but the audience is sold on that point from the first moment Tracy opens her mouth and the audience cannot help but be sucked in.
So I just went to a sneak peak of Hairspray this morning and was I pleasantly surprised. As a huge fan of Hairspray the stage show and of music theatre in general, this could be my favorite movie musical (Chicago, Rent, Phantom, Dreamgirls). The cast was for the most part quite stellar. Nikki Blonsky was one terrific Tracy. Very surprised and impressed with Amanda Bynes as well as Zac Effron. Elijah Kelley was impressive as Seaweed as well. John Travolta was very funny and was a great dancer (even in heals). Love Christopher Walkin's performance as well. Michelle Pfeiffer was a great evil Velma (although her singing was the weakest of the movie). Queen Latifah was PERFECT in this role, got to love her! The story lines altered from the stage show some (don't worry I won't spoil anything). But the differences were not distracting; the movie still made wonderful sense and had a great flow. Although I was bummed that several songs were cut, the ones that were kept in were sensational. Of special note were "I Can Hear the Bells," "Welcome to the 60's," "I Know Where I've Been," and "Without Love." These movie musicals just keep getting better and better. I can't wait for Sweeny Todd this Christmas!!!
This is not CINEMA and it's not ART ... what is, however, is the most
fun I've had seeing a film in I can't remember how long ... a totally
incredible, wonderful, feel good, and so glad you went experience.
Oh, and the performances were overall excellent ... with some stand-outs - Travolta, Nikki Blonsky, Zac Efron, Queen Latifah, & Michelle Pfeiffer (perenially under-rated on account of "you can't be brilliant and that beautiful?") ... and there were no clunkers - the rest of the cast provided able support to the "stars." The music and the dancing got you bouncing up and down in your seat. And finally, the racial and weight discrimination issues .. the whole "you don't fit our skinny, white, young, & whatever is currently hip stereotypes ... were handled with humor and without being patronized or trivialized - not easy to do in a musical romp. The pride and self-confidence of those who were subject to this discrimination came through as unyielding, unwavering, and solid as a rock ... just like Tracy's hair.
DON"T MISS THIS MOVIE
Just got back from the premiere and this was an amazing movie. I wasn't expecting it to be comparable to the Broadway but it was amazing. The casting was really well done, the sets were very well decorated. Costumes were impressive. Travolta was an excellent Edna. It is definitely worth seeing. Laugh your head off funny. Music and performances had everybody in the theater dancing or tapping their feet. If you want to have fun, go see this movie. You will dance all the way home. I think this will be one of the better movies of the summer and definitely deserves a few awards. I can't wait for it to be released so I can bring all my friends and family.
My family and I saw the movie version of the Broadway musical adaptation of John Waters' 1988 comedy HAIRSPRAY on its opening weekend. It's unanimous: this HAIRSPRAY is a big, bright, joyful 1960s song-and-dance extravaganza, and we all urge you to run out and see it right this minute! Go ahead, I'll wait right here... :-) My little girl loves music and dancing, but she still tends to like animated films better than live-action films, so when she got into HAIRSPRAY from the start, dancing joyfully in her seat to the Phil Spector-style opening number, "Good Morning, Baltimore," I knew this movie was truly something special. Lest you think this HAIRSPRAY has forgotten its roots, the opening number also features Waters in a hilarious cameo as a flasher. Also, watch for Ricki Lake, the original HAIRSPRAY's original Tracy, as a talent agent in the climactic "Miss Hairspray" sequence, as well as Jerry Stiller, Tracy's dad in the original, playing The Hefty Hideaway's head honcho. HAIRSPRAY is the kind of movie musical that GREASE should have been back in the 1970s (yes, it was a huge box-office hit, but I always thought it had a cold, calculating air to it, plus it was so obvious that the teenage characters were being played by stars pushing 30), making it all the more appropriate that John Travolta should carry on the Divine tradition of a man playing mama Edna Turnblad in drag, without *being* a drag. Travolta is great fun to watch, a delightful surprise with his sensitive performance (even if his Baltimore accent is a little off but maybe that's just because Baltimore is played by Toronto :-)) as insecure caterpillar-turned-butterfly Edna; this is no cheap, brassy drag-queen turn. The very convincing fat F/X makeup and prosthetics (Edna may be overweight, but she's got womanly curves in all the right places) don't get in the way of fleet-footed Travolta's fabulous dancing. Adorable newcomer Nikki Blonsky lights up the screen in all her scenes as Tracy Turnblad, the perky dynamo who won't let her plus-size body or the sneers of Amber Von Tussle (Brittany Snow) and the other so-called cool kids keep her from dancing her way onto Baltimore's American BANDSTAND manque, THE CORNY COLLINS SHOW. Tracy and her shy bud Penny Pingleton (Amanda Bynes) become socially aware as they befriend the black kids from the "wrong" side of town, fighting against bigoted station manager and stage mother Velma Von Tussle (Michelle Pfeiffer, having a blast slinking around making trouble) to integrate the show instead of relegating their new friends to the program's monthly "Negro Day." The plot's serious aspects, with its foreshadowing of the era's more sobering issues, are woven deftly into the movie's high spirits. The jubilant dance numbers, Marc Shaiman's catchy music and Scott Wittman's snappy lyrics are performed with bubbly abandon by each and every cast member. As the Dick Clark-ish Corny Collins, James Marsden proves that Hugh Jackman isn't the only X-Man with range and musical talent. I've never watched HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL, but it's easy to see why Zac Efron, winning Tracy's heart as Link Larkin, has won audiences' hearts, too. Efron is alluring enough to make teenage girls squeal while coming across as wholesome enough not to panic parents, plus he doesn't seem to take himself too seriously. Indeed, there were Zac Efron fans in our theater who shrieked and giggled with joy every time he appeared on screen! Christopher Walken reminds us that before he was an eccentric Oscar-winning character actor, he was a hell of a dancer. As Tracy's supportive joke-shop proprietor dad, Walken has winsome chemistry with Travolta in their duet, "You're Timeless to Me." (You haven't lived until you've seen Walken and Travolta make like Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers!) The funny, endearing Bynes is better served here than she's been in her previous movies; maybe she should seek out more ensemble pieces like this one. Bynes also has terrific chemistry with Elijah Kelley as Seaweed, who combines Denzel Washington's playful side with James Brown's moves; I'd love to see Kelley get even bigger and better roles. As Seaweed's mom, Motormouth Maybelle, Queen Latifah is saintly yet sassy, gliding effortlessly between belting out "Big, Blonde, and Beautiful" and bringing tears to my eyes with her soulful ballad "I Know Where I've Been" during the protest march. BTW, Bynes isn't the only Nickelodeon alumnus in HAIRSPRAY; director and choreographer Adam Shankman also choreographed ROUNDHOUSE, one of our favorite Nick shows from the early 1990s. Leslie Dixon adapted Waters' original screenplay, keeping the sly, subversive elements while also keeping things bouncy and upbeat. HAIRSPRAY is a great big sunny summer movie that'll put a smile on your face, a song on your lips, and a shimmy in your shake!
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