tek's rating: ½

Hairspray (PG)
IMDb; Rotten Tomatoes; TV Tropes; Warner Bros.; Wikia; Wikipedia
streaming sites: Amazon; FandangoNOW; Google Play; iTunes; Movies Anywhere; Vudu

This came out in 2007, but I didn't see it until 2013. It's based on a 2002 Broadway musical, which itself was based on a 1988 movie (neither of which I've seen). Anyway, I wanted to see this movie in part because it has a cast full of actors I like.

So... it's set in 1962, in Baltimore. There's this teenaged girl named Tracy Turnblad, who has a best friend named Penny Pingleton (Amanda Bynes). The two of them are big fans of a local TV show hosted by a guy named Corny Collins (James Marsden). It's basically like "American Bandstand," though my knowledge of that doesn't extend much beyond the show American Dreams. One of the most popular dancers on the show is Amber von Tussle (Brittany Snow, who coincidentally also starred in "American Dreams"). Amber's mother, Velma (Michelle Pfeiffer), is the manager of the TV station that records and broadcasts the show. The other big star of the show is Amber's boyfriend, Link Larkin (Zac Efron). Anyway, one day Tracy and Penny skip school so Tracy can audition to replace one of the dancers on the show. Amber and Velma hate her, partly because she's overweight, and partly because she's in favor of integration. (The show has a "Negro Day" once a month, and Tracy wishes every day could be Negro Day.) So, she fails to make it onto the show.

Because of skipping class, Tracy gets detention... which seems to be filled entirely with black kids. One of them is Seaweed Stubbs, the son of "Motormouth" Maybelle (Queen Latifah), who hosts Negro Day on the Corny Collins Show. Seaweed teaches Tracy some dance moves, which impress Link, who helps her get onto the show. (Corny's attitude is much more progressive, like Tracy's, so he's often at odds with Velma.) And Tracy quickly becomes very popular with the public. Oh... and Penny kind of starts a relationship with Seaweed; before that she didn't do much except stand around sucking lollipops. She also has a very strict mother, Prudy (Allison Janney), as opposed to Tracy's more liberal parents Edna (John Travolta in drag) and Wilbur (Christopher Walken).

Um... and I don't really know what else to say about the plot, except that Velma does some scheming against Tracy, which ultimately doesn't work out. And Seaweed has a little sister named Inez, who wants to become a dancer on the show. And... the movie has lots of really fun songs. And aside from all the weirdness, there's a reasonably good message about integration, I guess. That faces some challenges, so it's good to see it finally succeed. And, basically, it's just a fun movie. And I'm leaving out a bunch of important stuff, I'm sure....

Remade for TV in the 2016 production Hairspray Live!


musical films index
musicals