Hairspray (2007) - Great Movie? Yes! Great Musical? Well...
| It seems the latest trend is movie adaptations of Broadway musical adaptations of older movies. I’ll go along with it this time, cause Hairspray is a great deal of fun.
But the fun has much more to do with the original film and the makers of this film than the musical that inspired it. The music in this film is so blah and boring that it honestly could have been done without music and still have been just as good if not better.
There was a revolution on Broadway about 15 years ago that turned the productions from revolutionary to banal. Now the great white way is chock full of meaningless and non-threatening fluff pieces (some would use the word “fun” to describe them, if your idea of fun is this vanilla - Mamma Mia is more funky) and the adaptation of Hairspray is a good example. The songs don’t advance the plot, they simply highlight one emotion at one specific time. The songs tend to be interchangeable, as if they could have been written for any musical and just thrown in… kind of like pop songs on the latest hit record. But hit records are at least catchy and here the songs are so completely forgettable that you won’t be able to hum one as you leave the cinema. Even the big “show-stopping” finale, which is by far the catchiest of the tunes, is a bit of a snoozer.
The movie, like the original, is still fun. It’s got a good dose of funny, the story is compelling and the message is timeless. I can’t believe we still have to make movies about how being different is cool. When will we get it?
The film makers pull out all the stops from fun casting (and I don’t just mean Travolta in drag) to wonderful dance numbers. It’s shot lushly like an old fashioned musical, almost in Technicolor. It’ll make you applaud even if the songs don’t stick with you.