Friday, July 20, 2007

Movie Review: "Hairspray"

What It's About: The chubby Tracy Turnblad takes Baltimore by storm.

What I Was Expecting: I loved the original film. I've never seen the stage show, but my wife has and loves the CD, so i pretty much knew the music. But, beyond that, I really had no expectations.

What I Got: A classic. I noticed about halfway through the film that my cheeks were aching. I wasn't sure why until the next number started and the broad smile returned to my face. And then I started to think about what might make this film any better. The answer I came up with? Nothing. Hairspray is about as perfect as a film can get. Nothing seems forced or false. It is filled with one joyful moment after another. It's exciting and fun and damn near impossible not to like. Every actor, every song, every scene feels like it is exactly where it needs to be. It's funny. It's touching. It has this amazing, almost tangible, energy. Towards the end of the movie, the crowd I saw it with was clapping along with the songs and cheering the heroes and applauding at the end of the numbers. Almost as if you were there watching in person. In the ride home, I realized how truly great I thought this was when I asked my wife, "How many musicals would you say were better than that?" We started with the latest string and worked our way back. Chicago wasn't even close. Moulin Rouge? Nope, Hairspray is better. To make a long story short, we decided that the only better musicals we could come up with were Singing in the Rain, West Side Story, My Fair Lady and The Sound of Music. And that's it. And none of those are nearly as fun. Hairspray is a genuine classic.

Grade: A

Oscar Potential: I thought about this during the movie. I came up with 14 strong possibilities, setting a record. Picture and director if it's a slightly slow year. Strong shots for Best Actress and Supporting Actor. Adapted Screenplay. Cinematography is a possibility. Arti Direction, Costume Design and Makeup you can bet on. One, maybe two, nods for song. Score. Sound and Sound Editing.

Random Thoughts While Watching the Film:

What can one say about Amanda Bynes? How many actresses can make a successful career by being what can only be described as a knucklehead.
2. Does Queen Latifah still rap?
3. The songs that were cut out of the movie? Don't miss 'em.
4. You really do forget that's John Travolta. And I'm the kind of movie watcher that tries to look for the details.
5. I keep waiting for Corny Collins to shoot Michelle Pfeiffer with the lasers from his eyes..

The Trailers:
August Rush:
I bet this movie looked great on paper.
Across the Universe: The preview they showed is one that worries me. That it might not be as brilliant as it looks.
Enchanted: Yeah, this one is going to be good. Disney cartoon on acid. I just hope it has more to it than just the gags.
Elizabeth: The Golden Age: The first Elizabeth, I loved. It was the Godfather as a costume movie. I don't think this one will have quite the same impact.
Rush Hour 3: What on earth happened to Chris Tucker? Is this all he does anymore? I looked up on imdb. He is one of the highest paid actors in Hollywood. And this is the third movie in the last ten years. The other two movies? Rush Hour 1 & 2. The man has talent. Why doesn't he use it more often?
The Golden Compass: If a studio tries to promote their new film by comparing to a previous movie they had success with, that's desperation talking. Comparing the story of a little girl in some land of magic to the Lord of the Rings movie, films that had some of the highest body counts in history, that's a stretch. This movie keeps looking worse and worse. But hey, it's from the director of American Pie.

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