2007; Director: Adam Shankman; Writer: Leslie Dixon
From the musical play by Mark O'Donnell and Thomas Meehan and the movie written and directed by John Waters
With John Travolta, Nikki Blonsky, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, Queen Latifah, James Marsden, Zac Efron, Amanda Bynes, Brittany Snow, Elijah Kelley
New Line Home Entertainment
Available Nov. 20, List Price $34.98
"If you do a musical well," says composer Marc Shaiman, "there's nothing more joyful." That definition fits Hairspray, a movie based on the Broadway show based on the 1988 Waters movie. Telling the story of Tracy Turnblad (Blonsky), a fat girl who gets on a segregated Baltimore TV dance party in 1962 and helps bring black kids onto the show, this really is an integrated musical all singing, all dancing, all the time. And 100% joy.
The last musical movie hit, Chicago (directed by Rob Marshall, who dropped out of staging the Broadway Hairspray to do the Oscar-winning film), pretended it wasn't a musical; it was a sort of vaudeville where characters stepped out of the drama to sing a number. From its first scene, Hairspray comes out singing and dancing and never lets up because the teens on the screen can't stop the beat in their overactive hearts. As director-choreographer Shankman says, "There was always needing to be music and dancing going on constantly because that's what Tracy has going on in her head constantly." In this sense, the movie is one of the few modern descendents of Singin' in the Rain youthful vitality expressed in music and movement.
That energy spills over into the DVD's extras, almost two hours of them. Begin with The Buddy Deane Show, the local version of Dick Clark's Bandstand that is the inspiration for "The Corny Collins Show" in Waters' film. Forty-five years later, some of Buddy's brigade convene to relive the days when they were the coolest kids in town. Mary Lou Raines, who was called "Baltimore's Annette Funicello," recalls that she and her mother "had to go to the nun and ask if I could be on the show. A Catholic girl being on a dance show where you're gonna dance with boys close?" Another Deane ex-teen says they "were not allowed to do certain dances on the show. One was the dirty boogie. It's just what it sounds like." As for the beauty product that gave the movie its title, Gene Snyder says of his now-wife, then dance partner Linda, "Her father used to buy hairspray by the case." Those beehive hairdos were not washed from one week to the next. A rumor that one girl died from an infestation of roaches in her hair was spread so quickly around Baltimore that Deane had to go on TV to refute it.