Tracy Turnblad (Nikki Blonsky), a big girl with big hair and an even bigger heart, has only one passion - dancing. Her dream is to appear on The Corny Collins Show, Baltimore's most popular teen dance party in 1962, sponsored by a hairspray company. Her plus-size figure has always set her apart, of which she is reminded by her loving but overly protective and oversized mother, Edna (John Travolta). After wowing Corny Collins (James Marsden) at her high school dance, Tracy wins a spot on his show and becomes an instant on-air sensation, much to the chagrin of the show's reigning princess, Amber Von Tussle (Brittany Snow), and her scheming mother, Velma (Michelle Pfeiffer), who runs television station WYZT. Worse still, Amber's sweetheart, Link Larkin (Zac Efron), seems to be smitten with Tracy as well. So all is set for the fight for the coveted Miss Teenage Hairspray crown.
Review by Louise Keller:
'You gotta think big to be big,' Christopher Walken's Wilbur Turnblad tells his daughter Tracy, when she confides her dream to dance on The Corny Collins TV show. Thinking big is exactly what this extravaganza of a musical does to perfection, as it brings the Broadway musical hit to the screen with aerosol cans filled with energy, joy and star power. With its central theme of acceptance, the film takes us on a wildly uplifting, colourful and frivolous journey, grounded by intersecting cross-streets of love, racial discrimination and doing the right thing.
Whoever would have thought John Travolta wearing an EEE cup fat suit could bring such a heartfelt, yet hilarious performance as Tracy's stay-at-home mother Edna, who spends her life negotiating pleats, ironing for a living. The pairing of Travolta's Edna with Walken's wonderfully wacky (but sincere) Wilbur is one made in Hollywood heaven, and their musical number 'You're Timeless To Me' (sung alongside oversize underpants hung on the washing line) is one of the film's highlights. As impossible as it may seem, there is genuine chemistry between the two, and lines like 'You're like a stinky old cheese, you get better with age,' and 'My heart only beats for a size 60' are a mix of hilarity and tenderness.
It gives me great pleasure to report there are too many highlights to mention, but the ever-beautiful Michelle Pfeiffer is divine as vile Velma, the ambitious TV station manager who stops at nothing to vilify everyone who doesn't fit her mould. Wearing a different, dazzling, body-hugging glamour gown in every scene, I couldn't stop smiling when she ventures into Wilbur's Hardy Har Hut joke shop wearing a red dress that spells seduction (he offers her a box of Belgian chocolate animal droppings!), and watch out when Walken is relegated to sleeping on a bed of whoopee cushions. Queen Latifah is great as Motormouth Maybelle and making an outstanding debut in the central role of effervescent, lovable and chubby Tracy, is eighteen year old Nikki Blonsky, who sings and dances like a dream ('When I start to dance, I'm a movie star'). All the supporting cast is tops (special mention to Zac Efron as Link and Elijah Kelley as Seaweed), as is the crowd-pleasing choreography and routines. We are taken back in time to the swinging 60s (great production design), the home of eyeliner, pale lipstick and beehive hair.
The inimitable John Waters (who wrote, directed and produced the 1988 original film Hairspray) appears in a cameo, as does Ricki Lake (the original Tracy) and Jerry Stiller (the original Wilbur). The great Marc Shaiman who wrote and orchestrated the music appears as a talent agent alongside his lyricist collaborator Scott Wittman. Hairspray is a joyous breath of fresh air that will stiffen your resolve to have an outrageously fun time.
Available on DVD in a single disc edition, blue-ray edition and the 'Shimmy and Shake' 2-disc edition, special features (on the 2-disc edition only) include two feature commentaries (with director Adam Shankman and Nikki Blonsky, plus producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron), soundtrack info and a three part featurette about The Dances of Hairspray.
Published January 10, 2008
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HAIRSPRAY: DVD (PG)
CAST: John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Nikki Blonsky, Christopher Walken, Amanda Bynes, James Marsden, Queen Latifah, Brittany Snow, Zac Efron, Elijah Kelley, Allison Janney, Taylor Parks
PRODUCER: Neil Meron, Craig Zadan
DIRECTOR: Adam Shankman
SCRIPT: Leslie Dixon, Mark O'Donnell (John Waters 1988 screenplay)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Bojan Bazelli
EDITOR: Michael Tronik
MUSIC: Marc Shaiman; lyrics Scott Wittman & Marc Shaiman
PRODUCTION DESIGN: David Gropman
RUNNING TIME: 112 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 13, 2007
PRESENTATION: Widescreen; available single disc; 2-disc edition; blu-ray
SPECIAL FEATURES: Single disc: soundtrack info; 2-disc edition: feature commentaries; step by step - the dances of Hairspray (Introduction, ladies choice, Peyton Place after Midnight)
DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Home Entertainment
DVD RELEASE: January 11, 2008