HAIRPSRAY is just plain upbeat and sickenly sweet, not to mention fun enough in tone and execution to make it infectious to the viewer. Like the original 1988 movie, itís also very PG in content. It has a solid positive message and not much in the way of swearing or lewdness (save for the occasional double entendre), which Iíd say makes it suitable for family viewing. The story of racial segregation and eventual integration is nothing groundbreaking, but works effectively in context; same with the movieís standard ďbe yourselfĒ message. Itís definitely a musical through and through as well, so if you donít like constant singing and dancing, itís probably not down your alley. A couple of the 60s era tunes were good and worth a laugh or a toe tap, but overall none of them really caught my ear. In fact, overall I found the non-singing parts of the movie to be a lot more interesting, but they were far and few between.
Newcomer Nikki Blonsky does a great job in the main role, giving an energetic and confident performance whether acting or singing. I did feel kind of bad that a lot of the laughs came from seeing a more rotund girl dancing provocatively (the jigglingÖoh, the jiggling), but ultimately Tracy Turnblad comes out on top as an optimistic and admirable character. The same canít be said for a terribly miscast John Travolta. I donít know who else couldíve played the role, but at no point did he disappear in to his character. That means every time Edna was on screen, all I saw was Vincent Vega in a dress and fat suit doing a bad Dr. Evil impression, which is as bad as it sounds. The rest of cast was good enough to pick up the slack, notably Amanda Bynes (who I would do horrible, sexy things to), Michelle Pfeiffer (ditto) Elijah Kelley and James Marsden. And as great as it was seeing Christopher Walken dancing and singing (and in a dress!), the man didnít have much to do. His one big musical number was a letdown, mainly because he understandably has no chemistry with Travolta, who plays his characterís wife.
Overall though, I offer congratulations to director Adam Shankman for finally making a movie that didnít immediately make me want to stick my head in front of oncoming traffic. Letís keep this track record going.
Commentary with director Adam Shankman and Nikki Blonsky: The duo is energetic and excited about the movie throughout, especially Blonsky, which makes for a fun listen if youíre a fan of the movie.
Commentary with producers Craig Zadan and Neil Meron: Some worthwhile contributions, but thereís no reason this couldnít have been combined with the above track to kill two birds with one stone.
The Long Journey of HAIRSPRAY (1:18:17): A multipart documentary on the early transition from film to Broadway and back again, casting, recording, choreography (done by director Adam Shankman himself), and production. Pretty much everything you wanted to know about HAIRSPRAY is covered here.
The Roots of HAIRSPRAY (39:34): A look at The Buddy Deane Show (which is the real life inspiration for Corny Collins), John Watersí original movie and the Broadway musical. The 1988 film version is such a different animal in terms of look and feel, and the interviews with John Waters and Ricki Lake are fun.
HAIRSPRAY Extensions (37:12): Extended versions of some of the dance sequences, as well as rehearsal and recording footage.
Deleted Scenes: A handful of deleted and alternate scenes, as well as one deleted song.
Step by Step: The Dances of HAIRSPRAY (12:42): Dance instructors teach you the moves to two of the big numbers. OMG IíM Zac Efron!~! LOLZ!!1!
You also get Jump to a Song capabilities, Sing-A-Long lyrics, a Theatrical Trailer and assorted Previews. In addition, my review copy ironically came with a coupon for dinner from KFC.
Extra Tidbit: Nikki Blonsky worked at Coldstone Creamery before being discovered.