Musicals are extravagant fun with song and dance scenes thrown in for seemingly no reason, and it is absolutely hilarious when someone actually points that out (Thank you Amanda Bynes!).
Hairspray is a musical film based on an actual musical about a young woman who is different from the norm, in this case she is overweight compared to the stick thin beauties around her, and is thrown into the mix because she’s different. Stop me if this sounds like most, if not all, high school movies ever made. Nikki Blonsky debuts as the alliterative Tracy Turnblad, a big beautiful woman with big beautiful dreams of one day being on The Corny Collins Show, a musical program that inexplicably starts before school is even out but stars high school students… Her best friend is Penny Lou Pingleton (Amanda Bynes) and they both love The Corny Collins Show. Because of one young girl’s unfortunate proclivities a spot has opened up for at least nine months. So of course they skip school to go to the audition.
Enter Michelle Pfeifer as Velma Von Tussle the manager of the station and her daughter, Amber (Brittany Snow), the top bitch of the school and the show. Zac Efron is the male lead, and another alliterative Link Larkin, that everyone wants to… you know the drill… But this film has an ensemble cast that serve to up the ante where musicals are concerned. John Travolta plays Tracy’s mother Edna (yes, mother), Christopher Walken plays Wilbur, Tracy’s father, Alison Janney (SQUEE!~~) plays Penny’s overly strict, painfully religious, and appropriately named mother Prudence, Queen Latifa plays Motormouth Maybelle the DJ for Negro Day and James Marsden plays the hot, quirky, and defiant Corny Collins. The last lead plays a powerful figure throughout the movie as he draws Tracy into the plot of the musical, which gets a slow start even as it is blatantly obvious throughout. Elijah Kelly plays Seaweed (he also played Danjou in Take the Lead) and is a rhythmic character, pun intended.
While this is a musical, it uses its film to spell out an important piece of history in the United States, Racism. The plot builds up to itself throughout the film, taking its time to establish the characters roles and personalities until everything all but literally blows up in our faces.
Sometimes racism can be a touchy subject (and by sometimes we mean always) but it is a part of our world nonetheless. While dramas often take their time to spell it out for us, a musical can give it a unique spin. Hairspray is a cute movie regardless of politics. So if you haven’t seen it, pick it up, and if you have… Go watch it again just because you can now make fun of the fact that Zac Efron wasn’t always a hot bad boy that he is today.