Wednesday, December 5, 2007

It’s Hairspray!

I love musicals. I love that the movie industry has produced some really excellent movie versions of some of my favorite stage productions.

Sure, I had some problems with the producers of “Dreamgirls” missing the message of the show by writing Beyonce her own stupid song. (Hello? The whole message was that her character wasn’t a REAL star.) I forgave this act of theatrical transgression ONLY because they wrote Effie/Jennifer Hudson a terrific song for the movie. (That would be “Love You I Do”, available on iTunes.)

I Netflixed “Hairspray”. The stage show is full of athletic dancing, amazing singing, and the usual musical theater fare. I was very excited- we saw Hairspray in June of 2006, and it was stellar. With the resources that movie producers have, the movie should have been A-MA-ZING.

Not so much.

To start with, the casting was sub-par. Michelle Pfeiffer can’t sing, and shouldn’t be in musicals. Anyone who saw Grease 2 knows this. John Travolta made a mockery of Edna Turnblad; why put him in a fat suit? His stupid “Baltimore” accent made the character more of a caricature, and the whole combination managed to cross the line from “funny” to “offensive”. Amanda Bynes can’t sing either and couldn’t sing the book, or dance.

Some of the casting was excellent: Zac Efron as Link, Christopher Walken as Mr. Turnblad, and Queen Latifah. The best actors were seen the least.

What I found the saddest was the lack of large ensemble dance numbers- and that the lead girl wasn’t in a single one of them. The changes in the plot made the movie heavy and trite without adding anything positive.

Oddly, I still found it to be a fun film.

Zac Efron plays a delightfully narcissistic Link, and carries his singing and dancing roles off flawlessly. In the stage show, there was nothing shameful about having a crush on the Link character. I think that’s because the actor was 35 years old. Imagine how creepy I felt when I realized that movie-Link is a Disney kid and BARELY legal. I probably wouldn’t feel this way if I hadn’t seen High School Musical, but alas, that bridge has been crossed. Twice.

The best part of the movie is the closing number- “You Can’t Stop The Beat”. I have to say, John Travolta does a mean, full-body shimmy. After seeing his shimmy, I feel like less of a woman. Seriously. I cheered for the shimmy. I told my family about the shimmy. This shimmy is what shimmy legends are made of.

If you were considering renting it, do. Do it for the shimmy.

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