Tuesday, July 24, 2007

"Hairspray": Some More Thoughts

I went to a matinee of "Hairspray", the new musical film, with the girls yesterday (as alluded to in the previous post). Part of the fun of these movies is trying to find things that don't quite mesh chronologically. In the first five minutes of the film, I found the first one as a 1963 Chevrolet Bel-Air whizzed by, a car that would not have been made yet in the spring of 1962. And then, later on, in Motormouth Maybelle's record store, there's a copy of Junior Walker's "Road Runner" album, which the sax great didn't record until 1966. Robair thinks some of the songs on Corny Collins' countdown board came out after the events of the movie transpired, and may not ever have charted together as a group... we'll have to wait until the DVD comes out to break that down.

Whose performances was I impressed with? Well, I always get a kick out of Christopher Walken, who's playing Tracy's dad in this film (and taking over from Jerry Stiller, who's moved over into another role in the new movie). Michelle Pfeiffer is great as well as the TV station manager and she and Walken have a great number together. Allison Janney was very funny as the mom of Penny Pingleton (Amanda Bynes). Some of the young performers were good too such as Jason Marsden (who played Corny Collins), Brittany Snow, and star Nicole Blonsky. Bynes, as Penny, got off some good lines and did some of her trademark pratfalls. Elijah Kelley played the guy Penny falls for, driving a lot of the plot of this film.

But John Travolta? My goodness, 30-some years after "Moment by Moment", he STILL looks like Lily Tomlin! And in drag and a fat suit, he looks like a bloated Lily Tomlin! I'm sorry, I just couldn't get that image out of my head. But he did dance pretty well, shaking his prosthetic ass for the camera. (And that's probably the only time you'll ever see that phrase on this blog. Bottle this moment in time.)

The songs by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman were great. These songs have worked on Broadway for several years and they sound much bolder on the big screen (and have the benefit of some great orchestrations). (Shaiman, Wittman, director Adam Shankman, and original "Hairspray" star Ricki Lake - not looking anything like the chunky Tracy of '88 - all had cameos in the film as talent agents.)

The one thing I miss about this new version? "It's Madison Time! HIT IT!"

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