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July 23, 2007

"Hairspray" at its best

by Jenny Williams, Online Weekend Editor
The highly anticipated "Hairspray," an adaptation of the 2002 Broadway musical and 1988 film, lives up to its expectations on the big screen. Director Adam Shankman (Bringing Down the House) brings the Tony award-winning Broadway production to life with energetic dance numbers and remarkable performances from a slew of actors including John Travolta (Wild Hogs), Michelle Pfeiffer (Stardust) and Queen Latifah (Last Holiday). After the original two productions of "Hairspray," this latest adaptation of the film has success written all over it.

In the early 1960s in Baltimore, pleasantly plump Tracy Turnblad (Nikki Blonsky) dreams of becoming a part of the popular dance program "The Corky Collins Show." Opposed to her dream stands Tracy's mother Edna Turnblad (John Travolta). Against her mother's will, Tracy auditions for a spot on the program. Hardships stand in her way, but eventually Tracy makes the show. Now a celebrity, Tracy, along with the help of her peers, embarks on a new journey to integrate the all white Corky Collins Show.

"Hairspray" tackles important issues such as racism and discrimination while adding a flavor of comedy that makes it invigorating. But the movie is not flawless. Hackneyed jokes and a pointless and corny love triangle between Travolta, Pfeiffer and Christopher Walken (Click) bring utter embarrassment to the film.

The dancing and rejuvenating songs make up for the movie's blemished segments. Lyricist Scott Wittman perfects each song with catchy hooks that will have the audience singing for days. Adam Shankman is a visual stylist. The dance scenes throughout the movie are all eye openers. Shankman's experience as a choreographer shines through these exuberant and energy packed dances.

Although the appealing lyrics and flamboyant dance moves make the film enjoyable, the performers steal the show. Travolta is perfect for the role of Edna. Although he cross dresses to fit the character, Travolta makes Edna comical and fills her with charisma and affection to turn out a convincing performance. Travolta's fat suit puts the icing on the cake.

Newcomer Nikki Blonski is divine in her leading role as Tracy Turnblad. Her enthusiasm and charm make her shine. Elijah Kelly (Take the Lead), Zac Efron (High School Musical) and Amanda Bynes (She's the Man) all give outstanding performances. When all of the movie's numerous characters are on screen, the energy only elevates the film.

With its effortless singing, dancing and acting, "Hairspray" brings out the spirit of the original two productions. Shankman does a terrific job not forcing anything unnecessary into the movie. Every aspect of the film seems achievable on a Broadway stage and has the feel of a 1960s musical, making "Hairspray" one of the most unique and enjoyable films to come out this summer season.

Hairspray (107 minutes) is rated PG for language, some suggestive content and momentary teen smoking. Now playing everywhere.

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  • kimi (View Email) on July 26, 2007 at 3:20 PM
    I loved the movie.Zack Efron was so hot and so so cute.

    I love zack
  • maria maria (View Email) on July 29, 2007 at 10:30 PM
    this article is very well written i lovd this movie so uch like a fat kid loves cake
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