Rated PG; Directed by Adam Shankman; Starring Nikki Blonsky, John Travolta, Christopher Walken, Queen Latifah, Michelle Pfeiffer, Zac Efron, James Marsden, Amanda Byrnes, Elijah Kelley, Allison Janney
Have you been feeling grumpy lately? Can’t seem to smile at anything? Well, the cure for you is to sit yourself down at a showing of Hairspray. I dare you to try and NOT smile. It’s impossible. Hairspray is one of those effervescent films that leaves you feeling goofy and good and puts a grin on your face.
Originally based on John Waters 1988 film of the same name, Hairspray is an adaptation of the Broadway musical version, which means singing and dancing – and there’s plenty of both. In 1962 Baltimore, young Tracy Turnblad (Nikki Blonsky) creates a ruckus when she becomes one of the teen dancers on the “Corny Collins Show.” Tracy isn’t exactly a petite girl and she riles up the show’s manager, ex-beauty queen Velma Von Tussle (deliciously played by Michelle Pfeiffer), who has certain standards, including keeping the show non-integrated (there’s only Negro Day once a month) and making sure that her daughter Amber (Brittany Snow) gets plenty of camera time.
If you’ve seen the original Hairspray you’ll know a good chunk of the plot. The difference is the singing and dancing, though the music is upbeat and tuneful, it’s not memorable. Still, who cares? With a wonderful performance from newcomer Nikki Blonsky as Tracy, plus some killer scene steeling from Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, John Travolta, Queen Latifah, Alison Janney, and James Marsden (who is a surprise as the singing Corny Collins), the movie keeps an audience entertained. The show even survives John Travolta in a fat suit playing Tracy’s mother.
So, go warm up those smile muscles and get your grins in place. You’ll need them when you go see Hairspray.