Hairspray brings fun songs, dances, great cast to silver screen

Ryan Haidet

The ’60s are back and in a good way – Hairspray is jumping off Broadway and into cinemas for the second time Friday. The movie was made once before in 1988.

With catchy, upbeat music, fun characters, an amazing cast and great dance choreography, this movie is fun for all ages.

The film follows Tracy Turnblad, a pleasantly plump young girl who is played by newcomer Nikki Blonsky, (an employee of Cold Stone Creamery before getting her spot in the movie). With her personality shining through the huge hair and giddy acting, it’s difficult to dislike her. She’s one to watch – she shines with stardom.

Tracy sits in class each day waiting for the bell to signal the end of school so she can rush home to watch the “Corny Collins Show” – filled with singing, dancing and lots of hairspray-filled hair.

Zac Efron, known to the younger crowds as Troy Bolton of High School Musical fame, plays Link Larkin, a cast member of the aforementioned show, whom Tracy has a major crush on. With a different look from High School Musical, Efron makes a memorable character, and one that will likely bring the teenyboppers out in droves – after all, they have to wait a few more weeks before the High School Musical sequel hits the Disney Channel.

One day he announces that they will be holding auditions for the show. To fulfill her dream, Tracy skips out on school and shows up at the audition, only to be ridiculed for her weight problem (among other things) by station manager Velma Von Tussle (Michelle Pfeiffer).

But, it’s a feel-good, happy musical, so through a predictable turn of events, she lands a part on the show, which shocks her folks, but not so much the moviegoers.

Her mother, Edna Turnblad – an overweight woman obsessed with food – is played by John Travolta, who makes the ugliest woman ever seen on screen. His makeup is scarier than the Wayans brothers in White Chicks, and it doesn’t get much worse than that. But yes, it’s funny at times when he (I mean she, er… whatever) is supposed to be romantic with her husband, played by Christopher Walken.

Walken plays Tracy’s quirky father, Wilbur Turnblad, who owns a gag shop filled with rubber chickens and whoopee cushions. Watching him in this role is a long way from his Deer Hunter days, but unique nonetheless. It could be worse. In fact, it has been. Remember his role in Gigli? Enough said.

This film also addresses the segregation issues of the ’60s. For example, the “Corny Collins Show” is dedicated once a week to “Negro Day,” giving the black performers, led by Queen Latifah’s character, Motormouth Maybelle, a chance to rule the program. When “Negro Day” is dropped by the station, they protest with signs reading “TV is black and white.” In the midst of it all, Tracy finds herself doing everything to help the cause.

The moral of the story is to be yourself no matter what – even if you’re different and not always accepted. Whatever your weight or skin color, always follow your dreams. Don’t take “no” for an answer.

That’s exactly what Tracy takes on during nearly two hours of singing and dancing.

If you like musicals, you’ll love the movie. If you don’t like musicals, this one might surprise you. The songs are amazingly catchy and the dance sequences – especially the finale – are great.

So what did my 5-year-old niece and date for the night, Daisy, have to say about it?

“Tracy (was my favorite character) because I just liked her, she was really pretty,” Daisy said. Her favorite part? “Singing ’cause it’s just great songs and we need music to bring hearts in our life.”

Although the overdramatic acting is corny at times, it’s a feel-good, forget-your-troubles kind of movie. The songs, such as “Without Love,” are so catchy that they’re bound to get stuck in your head.

It will likely leave you dancing out of the theater and lift your spirits as high as the hair.

Contact features editor Ryan Haidet at [email protected].


Starring John Travolta, Nikki Blonsky, Amanda Bynes, Christopher Walken, Zac Efron, Michelle Pfeiffer and Queen Latifah

Directed by Adam Shankman

Distributed by New Line Cinema

Rated PG for language, some suggestive content and momentary teen smoking.

Stater rating: ***1/2