The Beat Goes On

16 Jul

I have to say, I really enjoyed the movie adaptation of the Broadway adaptation of the film Hairspray.

It’s so much fun that even non-fans of Broadway shows might like it.

It’s bright, colorful, full of great songs and showstopping musical numbers, and it just leaves you with a huge smile.

Director Adam Shankman seems to have perpetual jazz hands on and directs in a style where every song seems engineered to be a crowd pleaser.

And thankfully, most of it works pretty well.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, Hairspray is not as slick or impressive as Dreamgirls is. There’s no Jennifer Hudson–caliber performance here.

But as an emsemble, all the pieces come together nicely. And there are plenty of surprises.

Among them is Zac Efron, from High School Musical, who proves he’s the real deal when it comes to star quality. “Ladies Choice” is a great scene, but “Without Love” is a good laugh, thanks partly to his charming performance.

And James Marsden, from the X-Men movies, has a Michael Bublé-ish voice that’s quite good, and impressive moves as a dancer. (Who knew?) You’ll never look at Cyclops the same way after “The Nicest Kids in Town,” and that’s a compliment.

And then there’s John Travolta, who plays the role of Edna the only way you can — by going all out and saying “To hell with it.” And even if he is a little too lady-like, he’s pretty funny. Totally bizarre looking, sure, but it’s an endearing performance that you have to applaud.

Granted, I still think Harvey Fierstein is better suited for the role, but Travolta fits perfectly with the mainstream tone of the movie. He and Christopher Walken have some real fun with “You’re Timeless to Me.” Also notable is “Welcome to the 60s,” where Travolta’s character breaks out of her shell.

Additionally, Elijah Kelley, who plays Seaweed, is great. He’s got charisma to burn, and in “Run and Tell That,” he practically oozes cool; it’s one of the most exciting scenes you’ll see in the movies all year.

Nikki Blonsky, who plays Tracy, has a huge voice that’s, well, as big as she is. And while I prefer Marissa Jaret Winokur in the role (Winokur originated it on Broadway), Blonsky’s performance is sweet, perky, and full of so much joy that you love her from the second she appears on screen singing “Good Morning, Baltimore.”

And you know how I feel about Amanda Bynes. She’s goofy fun, she looks great, and is irrestible in the role of Penny Pingleton. (Mmmmmm … I loves me some Amanda Bynes.)

Queen Latifah also gives a very good performance (no surprise), and cameos by John Waters, Jerry Stiller, and Ricki Lake are fun as well.

I don’t think Hairspray is the best musical ever, and I think the movie cleans up a bit too much of the rawness and inappropriateness of the Broadway version (which in turn cleaned up the original John Waters movie), but damn are those songs catchy and do they ever make up for the sanitizing and some pat resolutions in the plot.

And Shankman found a non-theatrical style that works for the film and makes Hairspray feel like an actual movie — as opposed to an adaptation of a Broadway show (like, say, The Producers did).

I really liked Hairspray, so I’m giving it a very strong B+.

3 Responses to “The Beat Goes On”


  1. Not the Sharpest Christian in the Bible « Martin's Musings - May 14, 2012

    […] even happier that the movie is not the lame-o type of film I’m used to seeing her in (Hairspray […]

  2. Attend This Tale of Sweeney Todd « Martin's Musings - May 18, 2012

    […] it’s the kind of movie musical I’m going to run to see multiple times (unlike, say, Hairspray), but it stands alone as a singular vision and not a retread of what many have already seen on […]

  3. Do You Wanna Rock? « Martin's Musings - June 14, 2012

    […] despite all that, it just works. Adam Shankman, who directed Hairspray five years ago, proves he’s a go-to guy when you want to turn a Broadway musical into a big, […]

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