And here is my favorite movie of the summer, at least so far. I am a fan of both the original 1988 John Waters film and the 2002 Broadway musical based on that movie. I’m happy to report the movie musical version is fantastic. Produced by the team responsible for the Oscar-winning Chicago, Hairspray takes the stage musical, blends it with Waters’ film and creates a winning combination that I think works even if you’ve never seen the other two versions.
Best of all, the film is an unapologetic full-blown musical. People break into song and dance on the street, in a classroom, on a bus and I love that. It doesn’t stick all the musical numbers into dream sequences (which Chicago did to perfection) and it doesn’t mix what it’s trying to do with the music like Dreamgirls did. It’s a loud and proud musical from the get-go as Tracy Turnblad wakes up to sing “Good Morning Baltimore.”
The casting is great here too. Nikki Blonsky is a great find as Tracy. Zac Efron (looking way cuter than he does in High School Musical mode) is a perfect Link. Christopher Walken as Tracy’s dad was a delight. But, John Travolta as Tracy’s mom never quite gelled for me, I couldn’t get passed the fact that it was Travolta in a fat suit. Although, he is great in the finale and has a pretty fierce Tina Turner moment. Queen Latifah is a large part of the emotional soul of the film as the host of “Negro Day” on the “Corny Collins Show.” She and her dancers, along with Tracy, fight to integrate the afternoon “American Bandstand”-style show. It’s a small step towards racial equality in 1962 Baltimore.
Keep an eye out for cameos from John Waters and original Tracy Ricki Lake. Plus, stay for the credits as the three original Tracys (Ricki, Broadway’s Marissa Jaret Winokur and Nikki) sing “Mama I’m a Big Girl Now.”
And to cap off my rave for Hairspray, here is a YouTube clip from the 2003 Tony Awards. It’s the original Broadway cast with the finale, “You Can’t Stop The Beat!”