We watched Hairspray last night as a change from moving the furniture around the house in preparation for the carpet-layers - who came today.
I’d heard that Hairspray wasn’t up to much and that people didn’t like Travolta in drag. I’m not sure that I was overstruck by his performance in this movie, but he carries it off pretty well, and gets some enjoyment out of sending himself up in the role.
The rest of the cast have an equally enjoyable time in what is a very upbeat movie. And there’s dancing, dancing of the calibre you don’t often see in a Hollywood musical these days. Actually you don’t see too many Hollywood musicals anymore, if it comes to that.
I miss musicals. They were the mainstay of my cinema-going in my childhood. It was the peak of the film musical period, and I’ve been saddened by the fact that so few musicals have been produced since the 70s. Why this should be, I have no idea. Someone in the marketing department got the idea that young people wouldn’t go to musicals, and that was that. Out they went.
Anyway, back to Hairspray, which apparently has been filmed before. Can’t say it passed my way, but in 1988 I may not have been going to too many movies, having a bunch of kids at home.
The film has a bunch of stars at its centre, from Michelle Pfeiffer and Christopher Walken to Queen Latifah and Zac Efron (better known as Mr High School Musical. But it’s Nikki Blonsky, who comes way down the cast list on IMDB, who carries the film. There can’t be many roles for short and solid girls, especially leads in a musical. But here she is, and she gives it everything she’s got. The rest of the cast orbit round her, but just when you think one of them is going to take over, up pops Nikki again. She’s a delight.
Zac Efron plays a bit of a wimpy role, which is a pity, because he’s got talent coming out of his ears, and needs a role with a bit more bite. It can’t be said that either of his High School Musical parts have given him much to do – apart from the singing and dancing.
The cast apart, the film is full of visual delights: not an opportunity is lost to play up the fun of crazy hairstyles and clothes, garish colours and skinny women. I thoroughly enjoyed this movie, and can see me sitting with my granddaughter watching it over and over.