Hairspray (PG)

Musical (2007)
116mins US

Starring: Nikki Blonsky, John Travolta, Christopher Walken, Michelle Pfeiffer, Brittany Snow, James Marsden, Zac Efron, Queen Latifah, Amanda Bynes
Director: Adam Shankman
Writer(s): Leslie Dixon
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

Tracy Turnblad is an overweight teenager in '60s Baltimore, whose greatest dreams is to appear on The Corny Collins Show. When TV host Collins holds auditions to find a new star, Tracy ignores the advice of her mother Edna and puts her best dancing foot forward, instantly making an enemy of ambitious wannabe Amber Von Tussle.

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LondonNet Film Review

Inspired by the 1988 John Waters film and the smash hit 2002 Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, Adam Shankman's all singing, all dancing spectacular is proof positive that size matters - the size of your heart, that is...

Hairspray. Photo Credit: David James. Film released by: Entertainment Films.Set in 1962 Baltimore - a city riven by racial tension - Hairspray isn't just a feel-good fairy-tale, it's a feel-absolutely-blinking-marvellous fairy-tale, putting a sassy, hip-swivelling spin on the Cinderella fantasy.

Director Adam Shankman, who spent the early part of his career as a dancer and choreographer, returns to his high-kicking roots, delivering a toe-tapping tale of tolerance and understanding that bursts at the seams with joy. The stellar cast appear to be having a ball and their energy is infectious, carrying the film along for two giddy hours on a wave of rousing musical numbers and tender emotion.

Like its previous incarnations, the third generation Hairspray casts a complete unknown in the pivotal role of big-haired dreamer Tracy Turnblad. Here's it's 18-year-old newcomer Nikki Blonsky, the perfect embodiment of the ever optimistic and perky heroine, who believes that she was born to boogie. Tracy lives with her parents Wilbur (Christopher Walken) and Edna (John Travolta) above the Har-De-Har Hut joke shop run by her doting father. The overweight teenager's greatest dream is to appear on The Corny Collins Show, a hip 'n' happening dance party hosted by showman Corny (James Marsden), which has a monthly Negro Day, overseen by Motormouth Maybelle (Queen Latifah).

Hairspray. Film released by: Entertainment Films.When Corny holds dance auditions, Tracy puts her best foot forward to impress dreamboat Link Larkin (Zac Efron), instantly making an enemy of starlet Amber Von Tussle (Brittany Snow), whose mother Velma (Michelle Pfeiffer) runs television station WYZT. Meanwhile, Tracy's best friend Penny Pingleton (Amanda Bynes) outrages her Bible-bashing mother (Allison Janney) by falling in love with Maybelle's son, Seaweed (Elijah Kelley).

Hairspray is the most unabashedly entertaining film of the summer. Screenwriter Leslie Dixon performs significant cosmetic surgery on the stage musical, liposuctioning myriad musical numbers to trim the running time to under two hours, consigning the anthemic "Mama, I'm A Big Girl Now" to the end credits. Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman have penned several new songs for the film, including Zac Efron's rockin' solo "Ladies' Choice", but invariably the old tunes stand out, including the gleeful opening number, "Good Morning Baltimore" and the irresistible finale, "You Can't Stop The Beat".

Hairspray. Photo Credit: David James. Film released by: Entertainment Films.The ensemble cast is sensational, from Blonsky's star-making turn, to Travolta and Walken, who make us believe completely in Edna and Wilbur's unerring love. Production values are high throughout, avoiding the heightened reality of the stage show, while the dance sequences will have you jiggling uncontrollably in your seat. Fans of the Waters film will spot cameos by the director as "the flasher who lives next door", plus Ricki Lake and Jerry Stiller, the original Wilbur Turnblad, camping it up here as Mr Pinky, owner of the Hefty Hideaway dress shop, promising "Quality Clothes for Quantity Gals". Big girls, you are beautiful.

- Kim Hu

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