I learned that lesson the hard way when o'er the weekend, I took in a viewing of the latest and greatest Hollywood musical tour-de-force, Hairspray.
For real. I spent the entire hour and 40 minutes with the most unrelenting half-moon smile on m'face and tap in m'toe. It was just fantastic. In fact, I don't think I've ever seen an hour and a half zip by at that pace since the harrowing hour and a half I was held hostage by neo-pirates off the coast of Madagascar. I preferred Hairspray to that.
Being a huge John Waters fan for quite sometime, I was all-too familiar with the original film from 1988 starring Ricki Lake as Tracy, drag-queen extraordinaire Divine, Debbie Harry, Sonny Bono, Jerry Stiller, Pia Zadora, Rick Okasek from "The Cars", Ruth Brown, "Smile" and "Graduation" songstress Vitamin C - the list goes on, really it does.
It seemed natural that the film would lend itself to the Broadway stage - and sister, did it ever. The songs were crack. I think I listened to the OBCR 4 hours a day for two weeks or something. Helping matters in this case were the sublime talents of [eventual Tony winners] Marisa Jaret Winokur as Tracy and Harvey Fierstien as Edna. I never saw the Broadway show, but saw it's sister Toronto production which American Idol season 2 castoff Vanessa Olivarez starred in. And where the hell is she now?
No matter - I remember almost putting money on the fact that Hairspray: The Musical: The Movie would suck as I thought it was a very straight-up musical in which when people stop the dramatic action to sing songs, they do just that. It wasn't like Chicago, or to a much lesser extent Dreamgirls, in that the songs could be staged as fantasty sequences or take place as a performance within the movie itself - so I was understandably iffy about the whole affair.
Well I'm happy to say that I was surprisingly wrong about it - because the shit rocked. I figured I'd use a new feature in my blog to make my individual comments about the performances called PICTOQUATIONS.
Amanda Bynes as Penny Pingleton...
Yeah. I'd have to say if there was one glaring weak link in this she-bang, it was the Bynes-ter. She acted the part fine, but couldn't dance to save her life and if ever she sang, it sounded as-if not-more digitally altered than any offering by Britney Spears... and WHAT WAS WITH HER GETTING DARKER THROUGHOUT THE MOVIE! Honestly, bitch was getting darker and darker and darker as time marched on.
I will give Bynes props for one thing though: as any white sista knows when they meet a brotha, there's this one look that you give them as if to say "ohhh shit... mama like" - kinda like pinpointing the exact moment you contract jungle fever - and as someone who's been there a time or two, I can say yes, Ms. Bynes handled that moment respectably.
Michelle Pfeiffer as Velma Von Tussle
The only other almost-weak link was Michelle Pfeiffer would could barely sing her way out of a paper bag... luckily her ability to vamp it up would slash through that back and set the shit on fiyah. She was very entertaining, but yeah, easily could have been outsang/outsung by Paris Hilton.
Zac Efron as Link Larkin
As if I even need to make this comparison with these two pics. But yeah... don't get me wrong, there's something incredibly dreamy about that Efron youngster... nevertheless there's also something incredibly repulsive about him, too. I guess there are worse things than ending up looking like Rob Lowe, though. However, there are also better things.
Queen Latifah as Motormouth Maybelle
Latifah Latifah Latifah... if you'll remember a while back I posted a clip of "You Can't Stop The Beat" that was leaked and noted that Latifah trying to sing the part of Motormouth Maybelle is like Jennifer Lopez trying to sing the part of Elphaba in "Wicked". Overreaching a little bit. Motormouth Maybelle should have been Jennifer Hudson in 20 years... or even 10 years... fuck, even right now. Hudson could play old C'MON! Anyway - it did leave me with sliiiightly more to be desired, but she certainly did the trick.
John Travolta as Edna Turnblad
I was skeptical as all get-out about this one. But this was by far the biggest surprise of the film - Travolta stole the show by underplaying a role normally played by a hyper-aggressive drag queen and TALK ABOUT being lithe - he danced circles around everyone! I certainly can't help but wonder/like to imagine that his former "Look Who's Talking" co-star Kirstie Alley in present form provided some inspiration. Actually, on second though, Kirstie totally should have played Edna. That's the one female casting choice that I not only would have been cool with but preferred.
Nikki Blonsky as Tracy Turnblad
She was adorable is what I'm trying to say. Not that she literally is two kittens cavorting through a grassy knoll... whatever. Anyway - she was indefinitely born to play this role and turned it out. Congrats to her in her first ever film performance! And what I have to assume will be her last ever film performance! Hollywood - not so much brimming at the seams with parts for girls rockin' 5 feet of heigh and 200 pounds of girth. But congrats just the same!
Anyway, that's pretty much it. Exciting news coming later this week!!!
Good morning Baltimore,