My neighbor and I took our girls, ages 11, 10, and 8 to see the musical Hairspray today. I have seen the original movie staring Ricky Lake, but that was years ago.
Hairspray is set in early 1960's Baltimore during the dance craze. Tracy Turnblad is a sweet but slightly overweight teen that wants to dance on "The Corny Collins Show," think American Bandstand as hosted by the surprisingly charismatic James Marsden and policed by the paranoid Pfeiffer. The show is not integrated yet, which Tracy sees as wrong.
Tracy's biggest obstacle to stardom, besides her own plump figure, might be her mother, Edna (Travolta, in women's clothing but never a drag). A virtual shut-in, Edna projects her fear of a close-minded society on her daughter and fails to see the young girl's inner beauty. Part of Tracy's journey includes updating her mother's mindset, which occurs during the robust duet "Welcome to the '60s." Jerry Stiller, who played the father in the original movie plays the storekeeper in this movie.
Hairspray does not pretend to be anything other than a musical. Amanda Bynes plays Penny, Tracy's wacky friend that falls for a black dancer named Seaweed. Queen Latifah is wonderful as Motormouth Maybelle, a sassy and street-smart personality who hosts Collins' annual "Negro Day." And Tracy picks ups dance moves previously unseen on the white side of the tracks when she befriends the sweetly supportive Seaweed J. Stubbs (Elijah Kelley) in detention. Shankman plays this material for knowing laughs, and gets them. The humor in Hairspray is so coyly offensive, it is rendered inoffensive.
When Tracy wins a spot on the show, she instantly becomes a dancing sensation. The audience loves her, much to the chigrin of the studio's lead dancer (Britney Snow), Amber Von Tussel, and her scheming mother Velma (Michelle Pfeiffer).
Christopher Walkin plays Tracy's dad, a lovable joke shop owner. He loves both Edna and Tracy and does what he can to make Tracy's dreams come true.
Zac Efron plays the hearthrob Link Larkin, who realizes he loves Tracy, and finally stands up to what is right...not what is popular.
I don't want to give a way the end, if you have never seen a version of Hairspray. The 3 girls loved the musical, and they asked about getting it on DVD when it comes out. The girls were also suprised to learn that Edna was played by John Travolta...whom the girls know from watching Grease over and over.
I didn't find anything objectionable in the movie. It gave my neighbor and I a chance to discuss the 1960's and integration with our girls. Our girls are still a little too young to fully understand segregation, so they asked a lot of questions.
I would recommend this movie..it's good, clean fun.