Directed by: Adam Shankman
Written by: Leslie Dixon; John Waters (1988 screenplay); Mark O’Donnell & Thomas Meehan (musical play)
Starring: John Travolta, Christopher Walken, Michelle Pfeiffer, James Marsden, Queen Latifah, Amanda Bynes, Allison Janney, Brittany Snow, Zac Efron, Elijah Kelley, Nikki Blonsky, Jerry Stiller
Though it does address some serious issues (discrimination in many forms, particularly racial), this is a movie that you don’t have to take so seriously; the style and tone are very tongue-in-cheek. The writing, though, sometimes goes a bit overboard and is just plain cheesy (and that ending is super contrived).
But I’m tempted to forgive all of Hairspray’s little flaws. This is definitely one of the most underrated films of the last decade: an irresistible, colorful parade of fun. The music is consistently good (which is, pretty much, basic for a musical film) and the eye-popping visuals are a joy to behold.
Adam Shankman, responsible for one of the worst movies of this year, Rock of Ages, directed and choreographed this 2007 adaptation of the stage musical, and does a commendable job on both counts.
Hairspray’s biggest strength is in its fantastic cast. When Michelle Pfeiffer is your weakest link, you know you have a talented group in front of you. The former Catwoman is just fine, but her timing is a bit off. She reacts to things a couple of seconds too late (weird, I know). Travolta, Blonsky, Walken, Bynes, Latifah, Efron and Janney are in top form but, for me, there were three big standouts.
First, Brittany Snow. Her mean Amber provided many of the film’s best moments; she’s on the screen far too little. Second, James Marsden. It was his work as the aptly named Corny Collins that made me see the immense talent this man has. He’s funny, charismatic and possesses a fantastic voice. I really hope he gets the Sinatra role in the upcoming biopic, as it’s been rumored.
And last (but certainly not least), Elijah Kelley. I’m shocked the movie roles and recording contracts didn’t come pouring in after his amazing turn as Seaweed J. Stubbs. He was in the much-maligned Red Tails but that is it. It’s unfair for someone so full of talent and who deserves to be a star. He’s a fine actor, a great dancer and a marvelous singer (the best in the film; sorry, Queen Latifah). I really hope his career takes off and (back to the Sinatra biopic) he snags the coveted role of Sammy Davis Jr. (reportedly, he and André 3000 are being considered).
If we’re wishing for stuff, I wish Shankman goes back to doing stuff like this instead of, you know, crap.
I really should see this as I’m a big fan of Marsden. Michelle Pfeiffer is the weakest link?? Hmmm, I find that hard to believe but hey, that means Marsden must be THAT good 🙂
OMG, yes Ruth! You HAVE to see this. I thought for sure you’d have seen it by now. Marsden is fantastic in it. And yeah, Michelle Pfeiffer is good but something’s off. She doesn’t quite nail it.
I will, I will. I like Michelle a lot, I’ll check it out and see what you mean 🙂
“I wish Shankman goes back to doing stuff like this instead of, you know, crap.”
Hear! Hear! The guy is obviously talented so no excuse for the debacle that was Rock of Ages.
Exactly. I do think he’s a better choreographer than director, but he’s undeniably talented as both.
I saw this shortly after it reached Comcast On Demand (back when we trusted “Comscam”). I do remember several scenes, especially “Good Morning Baltimore”, but I don’t really remember my thoughts. I didn’t, however, agree with all the hype….I suppose I liked it, just didn’t love it like everyone else did. I’m trying to think back to my ten-year-old self here, and maybe–despite the wholesomeness–it wasn’t even targeted at that sort of audience. I don’t know…I may have to revisit it.
Thanks, Alexander! It’d be nice if you checked it out now and see if it’s more to your liking after a few years.
Or to get a kick out of John Travolta in drag?
Let me tell you…I was IN LOVE with this film when I was younger. Head over heels. I bought the soundtrack, some posters, the whole works. I still remember the lyrics. 🙂
Haha, I feel you. I was kinda obsessed too. I saw it several times at the theater, I listened to the soundtrack all the time, then I bought the DVD.
Great review Fernando! I really enjoyed this too, much to Rob’s disgust! 😀
Haha, I can imagine. We know how that man loves his musicals 😉 haha
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