Just when I thought Transformers would be the biggest film of the summer along comes Hairspray, a song and dance movie that is larger than life. And it is led by a girl who is only 4 foot 10! This retelling of the 1988 movie Hairspray is full of everything that makes a musical film work. The songs are huge, the comedy is laugh out large, the characters have gigantic personality and Travolta is, well, just plain big. The story moves from musical number to number and you find it hard to sit there and not start dancing in the aisles.
The film takes place in 1962 Baltimore and young, plump, teen Tracy Turnblad (Nikki Blonsky) has to confine her hip dance moves to the living room of her home each afternoon as she dances along to the popular Corny Collins Show. It is only when the show holds auditions to replace a regular dance member that Tracy gets her chance to shine. Her instant popularity and desire for racial integration enrages the shows reining dance queen Amber von Tussel (Brittany Snow) and her TV exec mother (Michelle Pfeiffer).
This film is perfectly cast and no one falls flat. New comer Nikki Blonsky is jaw dropping in every scene. Her singing and dancing are spot on. Add to that a cuteness and charm that cant be learned and you have a hard to top performance. And that is saying a lot in a film where you have John Travolta dancing and prancing around in a 30 pound drag costume. Travolta plays Tracy’s insecure, overweight mother Edna Turnblad and hasn’t lost a step since his Greasy, Saturday Night Fever days. Everyone in this film from Christopher Walken and Amanda Bynes to Queen Latifah and Elijah Kelley deserves a round of applause.
I love the messages of this film. It deals with self confidence and inner beauty with an overall theme of tolerance and mental integration. It shows how absurd the act of segregation was and how better off a culture is when diversity is embraced. But it isn’t preachy. The message is obvious and speaks for itself. Too, in a world of actresses you couldn’t hit with a handful of corn, it is so encouraging to see a Nikki Blonsky open the door a little wider for young girls who might not fit the preconceived Hollywood mold.
Hairspray is rated PG for language, some suggestive content and momentary teen smoking. There is nothing offensive about this film and even the most suggestive scene is tame. If any warning needs to be given out it is to those who are put off by musicals. This film is wall to wall singing and dancing and although the soundtrack is a must own, if you are not into having your dialogue sung you will find your self totally beat down. That said, even the most diehard fan of action films will be transformed by this outrageously funny film. I give it 4.5 out of 5 Clutches. Just know before you go. I’m Matt Mungle
Matt and Cindy are members of the North Texas Film Critics Association (NTFCA).