Hairspray

Director-choreographer Adam Shankman's screen adaptation of the smash Broadway musical based on John Waters' 1987 “crossover” movie is a faithful record of the stage version, but that’s all it is -- a recording. The story remains the same: In the early 1960s, a plus-sized Baltimore teen named Tracy Turnblad (here played by perky newcomer Nikki Blonsky) becomes an unlikely instigator of integration on an American Bandstand-like TV show. The songs -- clever, up-tempo numbers styled by composer-lyricist Marc Shaiman and co-lyricist Scott Wittman after the Top 40 hits of the era -- are among the best of recent Broadway vintage. But Shankman hasn't reshaped the material in cinematic terms, and the result is a largely lifeless endeavor, lacking both the rambunctious energy of a live performance and the expressionistic pull of the great movie musicals. The stunt casting of John Travolta as Tracy’s plus-plus-sized mom, Edna, seemed a sound idea, but the dandyish star is oddly restrained in a part that calls for the grandiose. The only real flashes of inspiration here exist on the periphery, especially in James Marsden's performance as the movie's Dick Clark surrogate: Sporting enough Brylcreem to deflect most forms of nuclear radiation and flashing a Pepsodent smile that could guide ships to shore in a raging monsoon, it's Marsden who seems the epitome of the virginal 1950s innocence to which Hairspray is, ultimately, a cockeyed adieu.

Credits

Director:

  • Adam Shankman

Cast:

  • John Travolta
  • Michelle Pfeiffer
  • Christopher Walken
  • Amanda Bynes
  • James Marsden
  • Queen Latifah
  • Allison Janney
  • Brittany Snow
  • Zac Efron
  • Elijah Kelley

Writers:

  • John Waters
  • Thomas Meehan
  • Mark O'Donnell
  • John Waters

Producers:

  • Neil Meron
  • Craig Zadan

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