(Review originally written at 27 August 2008)

In lots of ways "Hairspray" is surprising much like musicals from the '30's and 40's; the era of the birth of movie musicals and by fans are still regarded as the best decade(s) for movie musicals. "Hairspray" comes real close to what those movies were all about. It's a happy no worries musical, with dancing routines and singing, that is colorful, fast and with a moralistic story to it. In that regard "Hairspray" is already a better and more successful movie at what it tries to achieve than some other genre movies from this decade.

The movie of course also has moralistic messages in it but it doesn't really work out that great though, since it just isn't realistic enough about it. As if dancing can solve interracial and acceptance issues. But that's just how musicals normally are. They show what should be a perfect and happy world and provide simple 'sulutions' for much bigger and more serious issues. The message of the movie is to respect each other, just the way they are, despite of race or size.

But obviously this just simply doesn't take away any of the fun of the movie. It's obviously not a movie that should be taken seriously. After all how can you take a movie with John Travolta in an elderly female role take seriously in the first place? "Hairspray" is light feel-good fun and it does not fail to bring entertainment.

It's also a movie with lots of humor in it, mostly with its spoken lines and insight jokes about the '60's. You don't have to been born prior to the '60's to understand it and find it all funny and amusing though. Its humor and the over-the-top going of it all makes sure that you'll never take this movie seriously and take it as simple light warm hearted entertainment instead.

The movie its cast is pretty amazing, considering the genre the movie got made in. It features some actors you normally wouldn't expect in a musical. John Travolta hadn't starred in a musical for almost 30 years but here he is again singing and dancing like he has done nothing else before. On top of that he isn't playing any ordinary role but he's actually playing an over-sized female. Of course a role you would never expect to see him in. Perhaps the most amusing role is being played by Christopher Walken, who always deliberately plays his comical roles so seriously that he becomes totally hilarious. Also actors such as Michelle Pfeiffer, Amanda Bynes and James Mardsen have some quite big singing roles. Jerry Stiller also makes an amusing small appearance. He also was in the previous "Hairspray" movie from 1988. in the role that in this movie is being played by Christopher Walken.

Can't really say that the musical numbers are anything memorable but they are done with style and is very happy and colorful, which makes them amusing to watch, even though it isn't always too great to listen at. At some points in the movie some musical numbers also too rapidly follow each other. 

Normally it's also really something disturbing when characters in the movie suddenly, in the middle of a sequence, burst out into singing but I must say that this movie handled this well and in an almost entirely seamless, non-distracting way.

I simply enjoyed it a lot, despite that musical isn't my favorite movie genre.


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About Frank Veenstra

Watches movies...writes about them...and that's it for now.
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