63 of 70 people found the following review helpful
`Hairspray' is a non-stop, exhilarating song and dance extravaganza. This exuberant remake of the John Waters' musical is funny, fast, and fabulous. Adam Shankman's direction is appropriately lilting in the right measure, but balanced with social commentary highlights. Unlike 'Dreamgirls,' there are no Oscar worthy performances, but the production is so fun there doesn't have to be. The entertainment is winning on every level, and, as for the songs, it never goes limp.
Once again we are transported to the early sixties in Baltimore, where flannel is uniform, Blacks and Whites are segregated, and beehives are in fashion. The plot is fairly simple: Overweight teen Tracy Turnblad (Nikki Blonsky) wants to break the mold on her favorite TV program "The Corny Collins Show" (an "American Bandstand"-like feature) while discovering a more urgent need to end segregation on a show that only sometimes features "Negro Night". She gets her big break when teen singing sensation, Link Larkin (Zac Efron) makes advances that bring her to the stage floor. In the meantime, her success is challenged by the show's program manager, (played with overbearing skill by Michelle Pfeiffer) and her daughter, Amber, the show's reigning "Miss Teenage Hairspray," a nasty nemesis . Joining forces with her Afro-American friends, especially Motormouth Maybelle (Queen Latifah) and dancer Seaweed (Elijah Kelly), she works for equal time on the dance floor.
`Hairspray' is set as perfect entertainment. John Travolta provides likable loopiness as Nikki's mother while he dances and cross-dresses his way into our hearts. The villains are nasty enough, and the sweetness pervades even amongst important demonstrations on key social issues. When it all comes down to balance, 'Hairspray' fills the bill.
25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
This is the sort of brassy, candy-coated musical to which you either give yourself entirely or not at all because there is little room in between. First, there was the edgy 1988 John Waters comedy followed years later by the sunnier 2002 Broadway musical version. I thoroughly enjoyed the elaborate stage version thanks mainly to Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman's ebullient music and sharp lyrics and stellar performances from Harvey Fierstein and Marissa Jaret Winokur as a most unlikely mother and daughter in 1962 Baltimore. That most of that high-kicking, watusi-gyrating spirit remains intact is quite an accomplishment for director Adam Shankman, whose previous track record consists of mediocre studio comedies. Adapting Mark O'Donnell's stage book, screenwriter Leslie Dixon seems equally unlikely of pulling it off. Yet, somehow they do and even bring a deeper sense of gravitas than the previous incarnations with the heavier elements of racism and segregation. Starting out his career as a dancer and choreographer, Shankman provides the energetic, in-your-face choreography that is appropriately applied here.
The story centers on Tracy Turnblad, a genuinely optimistic teenager, a bouncing bundle of energy obsessed with the local Corny Collins dance show. Living in a working-class neighborhood with her agoraphobic, self-consciously plus-sized mother Edna and her congenial, novelty store-owner father Wilbur, Tracy only wants to dance on Corny's show. Standing in her way is the malevolent Velma Von Tussle, an aging beauty who owns the TV station, and her equally venal daughter Amber. Once a month, the station allows the dance show to have a co-host, blonde-tressed Motormouth Maybelle, who holds a "Negro Day" to allow the local black kids to dance on their own. These kids seem to end up in detention a lot since Tracy finds them there and learns new dance moves from them. She realizes the world would be a better place if black and white kids were able to dance together on Corny's show. This sets up the story's central conflict, which comes accompanied by romantic complications among the various characters. All of this ends with the Miss Teenage Hairspray pageant and naturally a pull-all-the-stops production number.
The casting is inspired. Following Divine and especially Fierstein in the cross-dressing role of Edna is no easy task, but John Travolta brings a surprising delicacy to the character. The novelty of his casting never wears off, but he also does not stoop that much to parody either. Even with a slightly garbled Baltimore accent, he is convincing as a woman who has accepted life's compromises for the sake of her family. Alternating quickly between clever and broad, Michelle Pfeiffer has a field day playing Velma, though she has precious little opportunity to show off her long dormant singing talent. As Maybelle, Queen Latifah seems to be cornering the market on musical earth-mother types and gets her shining moments on "Big Blonde and Beautiful" and especially on the gospel-flavored "I Know Where I've Been". Christopher Walken has comparatively less to do as the put-upon Wilbur, though he shows off his singing and dancing skills on his sweet pas de deux with Travolta on "(You're) Timeless to Me".
For all the veteran talent on display, it's Nikki Blonsky who carries the heart of the movie as Tracy, and her sunny demeanor and "American Idol"-caliber talent keep the story aloft. The other teens - Zac Efron as singing heartthrob Link, Amanda Bynes as devoted best friend Penny, Brittany Snow as spoiled Amber, and Elijah Kelley as Maybelle's son Seaweed - are all played with energetic adolescent brio. Complementing the principal cast are James Marsden as the perpetually smiling Corny and Allison Janney as Penny's Bible-thumping mother. Everyone is in the right spirit, and the pacing and tone are spot-on. The film's one weakness is a certain lack of energy in the camera movement around the production numbers, as Shankman's tendency is to film key dance sequences intermittently at mid-waist level. The net effect is a reduction in the overall energy level at key moments such as Travolta's Tina Turner-style turn at the end. Regardless, this is fun stuff for those open to this genre.
349 of 430 people found the following review helpful
on October 23, 2007
Information below was found on another site - I hope it's accurate. If Amazon wants to add this to the description and delete this comment it's fine with me.
* 16×9 widescreen version of the film or 4×3 fullscreen version of the film
* English Dolby Digital 5.1 EX Surround Sound
* English & Spanish subtitles
* Closed captions
Two-Disc "Shake and Shimmy" Edition:
* "Behind the Beat" picture-in-picture option allowing viewers to watch behind-the-scenes footage and on-screen commentary concurrently with the running feature (HD Exclusive)
* All new musical number, "I Can Wait"
* Feature-length audio commentary from director and choreographer Adam Shankman, star Nikki Blonsky and producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron
* Deleted scenes with audio commentary from director and choreographer Adam Shankman and star Nikki Blonsky
* "You Can't Stop the Beat: The Long Journey of Hairspray" documentary
* "Step By Step: The Dances of Hairspray" featurette offering how-to dance instruction
* "Hairspray Extensions" featurette, giving viewers dance breakdowns
* Jump to a song with optional sing-along feature
* "The Roots of Hairspray" featurette
* Interactive menus
* Theatrical trailer
* 16×9 widescreen version of the film
* English 2.0 Stereo Surround
* English Dolby Digital 5.1 EX (on feature, deleted scenes and interactive menus)
* English & Spanish subtitles
* Closed captions
27 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on September 25, 2007
Any film that features a touching love scene shot in a Baltimore backyard with laundry hanging on the line (as Moms used to say) between Christopher Walken ( Wilbur Turnblad) and John Travolta (as an almost scary Edna Turnblad) is OK with me. That that scene may also be one of the most romantic scenes of this or any year is crazy on the one hand and perplexing on the other. With that being said, director Adam Shankman has magically turned the stage musical into something that is more full of life, more effervescent than either the play or the John Waters slight, though terrific film of 1988.
Tracy Turnblad (Nikki Blonsky who almost makes us forget Rikki Lake from the film) is a Baltimore teenager: chubby of body, colossal of hair and bubbling over with good cheer and ironclad self esteem. The year is 1962 and the signs of change are everywhere Tracy goes foremost of which is the "Corny Collins Show," an American Bandstand-type show which features a "Negro Day" once a month: a situation that Tracy and her friends Penny (Amanda Bynes) and Link (Zac Efron) are desperate to change into an everyday occurrence. Edna, who hasn't left the house since 1951 and therefore very much aware and embarrassed of her size discourages Tracy from auditioning as a dancer for the show but Tracy, to her credit, feels confident enough about her dancing does so anyway and is finally accepted into the Corny Collins fold much to the chagrin of both Velma Von Tussle ( a gorgeous Michelle Pfeiffer) and her daughter Amber (Brittany Snow).
"Hairspray is also very much a capsule of its time and place: pregnant women smoking and drinking martinis, children in cars without seat belts buckled, boys and girls hair greased and sprayed to within an inch of its life (Tracy is accused of having a "hair-don't" at one point) and bigots spouting the kind of gunk that bigots do.
"Hairspray" is ultimately a big, calorie laden birthday cake of a film: you know you shouldn't imbibe but you can't help yourself. But along with the sugar rush of this spectacle there lays some lumps based on reality which point out, not only how much has changed since 1962 but more importantly how much has stayed the same.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on July 19, 2007
Delightfully corny with a charming look that boasts the razzle-dazzle style of Hollywood musicals from a bygone era, Hairspray could be the most fantastic Broadway adaptation since Grease. The surprisingly exciting picture won't just keep your hair in a flashy do, it will hold audiences attention from the first note of its energetic opening song, "Good Morning Baltimore" right through its whiz bang finale.
Based on the John Waters' 1988 film turned Broadway musical, the 2007 adaptation of Hairspray may not be as politically charged as its predecessor, but the reaffirmation of today's cultural values, plus a campy look at an era of lost innocence, should enchant audiences into falling in love with the material all over again. Captivated by the Corny Collins Show, a sixties dance program on a local Baltimore television channel, young Tracy Turnblad (Niki Blonsky) spends her hours keeping her perfect hairdo at attention while daydreaming of dancing on the television program and winning over one of the show's hunkiest young stars. Despite the disapproval of her mother Edna, played by superstar John Travolta in drag, Tracy's father, Wilbur (Christopher Walken), encourages his daughter to audition for the show, because in America after all "you have got to think big to be big".
And big is exactly how to describe Hairspray. The gorgeous, pastel colored back lot sets are big, the dance numbers are big, and even Travolta's fat suit is big! Sans the wailing divas and in your face editing of past Oscar worthy musicals, Hairspray follows its daring lead character in celebrating being different. Director-Choreographer Adam Shankman approaches Hairspray with the appreciation of a veteran Broadway performer, showcasing the grand spectacle of it all instead of trying to overwhelm audiences with flashy and gimmicky editing tricks. Though his surprisingly formulaic style failed in his previous directorial efforts like The Pacifier and Cheaper by the Dozen 2, Shankman seems to be at home with a period piece set in 1962, recreating a feel from Hollywood's golden era.
Unlike The Producers, another recent picture adapted from a musical originally based on a film, the witty screenplay penned by Leslie Dixon, brings out the director and casts' comedic timing and skill, giving Hairspray some big laughs. While the romantic pairing of Travolta and an underused Christopher Walken is uproarious, it disappointingly caters to cheeky humor that is funny for nothing more than the fact that one of the famous actors is in drag.
Luckily the young talent that populates most of the film is absolutely delightful. Amanda Bynes, Elijah Kelley and Zac Efron all deliver solid and entertaining performances, but the real find in Hairspray comes in the form of the pleasantly plump, yet undeniably adorable Nikki Blonsky. Working in Cold Stone Creamery merely one year ago, the unknown actress with no experience besides a handful of high school musicals explodes on screen in Hairspray with a memorable debut performance that should finally steal some thunder away from last year's sluggish Dreamgirls.
With old Hollywood charm and flair Hairspray should delight audiences across the country with its quirky style and laughable medleys reaffirming that being different is a good thing. With enough subtle raunchiness to please fans of the John Water's original, plus big performances and spectacularly fun dance numbers that should cater to Broadway aficionados, Hairspray should be just the product theaters need to get that extra pouf in their summer box office sales.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Adam Shankman directed "The Wedding Planner" with Jennifer Lopez and "Cheaper By the Dozen 2" before directing "Hairspray." Upcoming is a revival of "Topper" starring Steve Martin as Cosmo Topper who can see ghosts. I don't recall if I ever saw the 1988 "Hairspray" musical film; and I sure as shootin' can't afford a trip to Broadway. So "Hairspray" the film was viewed with a set of fresh eyes; and I liked what I saw.
From the first frame, it kept my interest. It's so significantly different from the summer's movie offerings that it stands out nicely. John Travolta has been nominated for two Oscars, "Saturday Night Fever" in 1977 and "Pulp Fiction" in 1994. He does a great job as Edna Turnblad with a look and gestures so different that we believe this is the gal with whom Wilbur (Christopher Walken) is in love. Walken won a supporting Oscar for "The Deer Hunter" in 1978 and was nominated again in 2002 for "Catch Me If You Can."
Michelle Pfeiffer plays Velma Von Tassle. It is a pleasure to see her return to the screen after a hiatus. She has three times been nominated for Oscar: "Love Field" (1992), "The Fabulous Baker Boys" (1989) and "Dangerous Liaisons" (1988). While this film may not result in nomination #4, she does a great job as the beauty queen whose superficiality is so huge that it leads her to judge everyone by their exterior, whether it be because of race or girth.
Amanda Bynes who did a nice job in She's the Man (Widescreen Edition), plays the best friend of Tracy Turnblad played by newcomer Nikki Blonsky. Blonsky has unlimited energy and a smile that could stretch all the way from Baltimore to D.C. James Marsden from the X-Men films hosts the "Corny Collins Show," a dance teen favorite. Queen Latifah plays Motormouth Maybelle who works on the show once a week when blacks are allowed. Latifah's lone Oscar nod was for "Chicago" in 2002. Brittany Snow plays Amber Von Tussle who models her mother's example of perfect hair, perfect dress and perfect superficiality. Snow has done a lot of TV work from "The Guiding Light" to "American Dreams" to "Nip & Tuck." Zac Efron plays the local favorite teen dancer Link Larkin. Taylor Parks does a nice cameo as Little Inez who dances up a storm on the final live TV craziness.
The pacing, music and dialogue kept me riveted throughout the film and had me leaving the theatre with a big smile on my face. Enjoy!
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I've never been a big fan of the musical "Hairspray," but this is a very good film adaptation. The story revolves around Tracy Turnblad (Nikki Blonsky), a chubby teenage girl who shocks everyone by landing a coveted role on "The Corny Collins Show," a television dance program. The plot itself is kind of hokey and there are only a few decent songs in the show, but the film is worth checking out for its star-studded cast, which includes a fantastic performance by Michelle Pfeiffer as a vindictive TV station manager, and Christopher Walken and John Travolta as Mr. and Mrs. Turnblad, respectively. (Their romantic tango is hilarious!) All in all, this is an uplifting, energetic little movie that was a lot of fun to watch.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 2, 2007
Let me say, first off, that I'm not the typical kind of person who would watch thing kind of movie. I don't care for musicals or plays, so I didn't know what to expect before I began this movie. With that said, I found it to be highly entertaining, and fun throughout the entire film. The girl who played the main character (the name escapes me) was outstanding. John Travolta as a woman was humorous, but believable. Great cast, fun songs, all together a very fun movie.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on July 20, 2010
Turning Hairspray into a musical could have been a disaster, and I watched it with a desire to hate it...but found myself won over instead. I think Michelle Pfeiffer and Queen Latifah keep things real, preventing the satire from going completely to saccharine.
There was one big exception to my loving this movie. My next comments will likely be the minority view, but I think John Travolta completely missed the mark. OK, we always knew he wanted to put on a dress (well some of us did anyway) so no surprise there. Also, I give him his props for giving ET his interpretation and sticking with it. Yet...it doesn't quite work. Playing it pathetic and needy was (and is) in my opinion a mistake. Whether Divine or someone else, no self-respecting drag queen would ever be caught dead showing vulnerability. And self-loathing would be subtextual, rather than surface. So, in a way, he played ET as a "real" overweight straight woman, when the reality is he is a man in a dress pretending to be a woman...and we are supposed to take this seriously? They should have cast someone playing a drag role with some "edge" or simply cast a straight woman, but an outwardly vulnerable drag queen interpretation doesn't play in my view. Straight audiences probably have no idea what I am driving at, but I bet a lot of "other folk" get what I'm saying. The only analogy I can give (and it's a bit strained) would have been to cast Motormouth Maybelle with a white actress, in "person of color," slightly over the top makeup, and then treated it like it was totally for real rather than a put on.
Fortunately, the movie as a whole is so good that the ET role doesn't sink the movie, and I'm sure 90% of the people who watched the movie found his portrayal just dandy.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
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.