More absurd than being willing to watch the remake of "Hairspray" at the 10:20 PM showing on a Sunday night in my sleepy little suburb, was the fact that I was even willing to pay any money at all to watch "Hairspray" one more time. Being dragged to this misadventure by my seventeen year old daughter made the experience more bearable than I had planned, because she loved it. I did not share her enthusiasm.
I was quite happy with the memory of Divine, Ricki Lake and Debbie Harry in the John Waters film version back in 1988. I was content with the great seats I had watching "Hairspray" performed on Broadway when my daughter turned sweet sixteen in 2006. Both occasions are still vivid in my mind and bring back a smile. By comparison "Hairspray" 2007 fell flat.
This latest version is not a complete stinker, but I would recommend that you save your money for the DVD rental because it quickly loses it's hold. With that said, "Hairspray" 2007 is full of pent up energy and high gloss to be sure. I found it to be more like "High School Musical" two in it's delivery (that's not a good thing). It's drenched in the kind of cute that's capable of causing severe cavities, which qualifies it as a direct hit for the targeted teens. Groups of girls were singing out loud during the credit role. "Hairspray" 2007 has the potential of being a cult favorite with multiple return visits by the loyal mindless drones. I get it!
If campy musicals are
your bag then you may not want to wait for the home release. Stand out
performances included; Zac Efron as "Link", Michelle Pfeiffer as "Velma
Von Tussle", Elijah Kelley as "Seaweed" and newcomer Nikki Blonsky as
"Tracy Turnblad". I thought that the "Good Morning Baltimore" opening sequence featuring Blonsky was a bright spot in this film. The rest of the cast must have been some kind of
favor to the other actors or possibly friends of the producer. I found
the supporting cast to be mostly forgettable as cheap knock-offs of the
A combination of the late hour and my intimate knowledge of the
story line did cause me to nod off a few times without missing too
much. I found the battle for abolishing racial segregation in
Baltimore appearing more stereotypical and ho hum in this new version. An expected
part of living in our politically correct times where posturing counts for caring. John Travolta as Edna
Turnblad was not funny for even a brief moment, becoming forced and
tedious to watch once the novelty wore off. For me that happened about
ten seconds beyond Travolta's first scene. Divine made the role of Edna
Turnblad impossible to fill for anyone who has had to follow in his footsteps. That's still no excuse for Travolta's obnoxious performance that reminded me of trying to choke down a mouthful of Cheese Whiz.
If you have not seen "Hairspray" John Waters style or the Broadway
show, you may be fooled into adoring this film for the wrong reasons.
If it's all you know, then this one is all you get and that's a true crime.
I trust you will dig a little deeper before you walk away content with your cheap sugar
high. The crash that follows is miserable and you'll only hate yourself for it in the morning.
(Travolta art by Gallery of The Absurd)