By Fred Topel | Image property of New Line Cinema.
Hairspray must be the happiest movie of the year. It's so contagious you'll watch the whole movie with a big smile on your face. I actually never saw the original John Waters film or the Broadway musical, so this was totally new to me, but Hairspray rocks.
In 1960s Baltimore, Tracy Turnblad (Nikki Blonsky) just dreams of being on a popular dance show. But when she gets there, she ends up fighting for racial integration. There's also a bitchy blonde dance queen who wants her out and a cool kid she wants to romance, but Tracy faces everything with a smile. And her mom's a dude in drag.
Seriously, even the racism is happy racism. They talk about Negro Day. Even the bitch is an adorable bitch. It's so cute how she's frustrated by the attention paid to non-skinny non-blondes. And Nikki Blonsky is just a little ball of energy.
I know the music already existed before this movie but I love it. I love the peppy '60s rock. It's like getting to hear new Doo Wop music, and you don't even have to deal with the blur of a mono sound mix. I do give the real credit to the Broadway composers, but it makes a great movie.
Whether or not it's a filmed version of the play, it feels cinematic. Just cross cutting scenes together is a filmic way to tell the story quicker. There are some visual effects, but just seeing the moves in close-up and edited together is unique. Some of the songs are mixed with dialogue or demonstration scenes so that crams more music into the more film-friendly running time.
The dancing is awesome too. Some of it must be CGI. People can't really jump that high, right? When John Travolta just freaks out in the end, it will go down in history as one of the legendary John Travolta dances.
I just think the '60s style is so much cooler than today's style. Greased up hair and swiveling hips is way more suave than pants around the knees and epileptic gyrations.
I'm not saying Hairspray writes the book on segregation or reinvents the musical. It's not about that. It's just pure, unadulterated fun, yet it has just enough social significance that it's not pure candy. It's simplistic. It seems like everyone in the world wants integration except the TV executives. But Chicago was just about getting away with murder.
I'm definitely going to go watch the Waters' film and get the Broadway soundtrack from iTunes. Oh, and Waters' has an awesome cameo right in the beginning. Anyway, I'm a total Hairspray fan now.