Hairspray (2007)

(In theaters, July 2007) I’m a really easy audience for musical comedy, so it’s almost inevitable that I’d enjoy Hairspray as much as I did. Fifties/Sixties rock, dance numbers and a bunch of laughs: What else could one want? What further distinguish this film from the norm, though, are its slightly-sarcastic lyrics and a deep love for the underdog. For those who haven’t paid attention to the film’s pedigree, this is where John Waters’ original influence comes through. (Waters himself appears in a split-second cameo as a flasher. Still, you can’t miss him.) One aspect of the film’s promotion leaves me frowning, though: For a film where racial equality is the backbone of the plot, Hairspray‘s trailer seemed a bit… light in this matter. Does it matter? Not really… but it’s still curious. In other related areas, it’s fun to see Hairspray take up where Far From Heaven and Dreamgirls lefts off in recasting black music as the good music of its period: There’s some interesting cultural reinvention here, but I’ll wait a bit later down the trend to think about it. In any case, thinking seems almost irrelevant in a film where John Travolta dancing in fat-suit drag can almost seem cool. Bubbly Nikki Blonsky makes a heck of a debut appearance; I wonder what’s next for her.

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