Film review – Hairspray (2007)

This new Hairspray film is an adaptation of the Broadway musical, which was based on the original cult film by John Waters. Fans of the original will be pleased to know that Waters endorse this new version by appearing during the opening song as a flasher. 

The story is much the same – it’s 1962 and the hottest show in Baltimore is the Corny Collins Show where all the cool white kids (Negro day is once a month) dance for their adoring fans. Local teenager Tracy Turnblad (played by the infectiously charismatic newcomer Nikki Blonsky) fulfils her dream by becoming a regular on the show but is soon passionately fighting against the end of racial segregation.

The 2007 Hairspray is just as fun as the 1988 original but it has lost some of its clunky, kitsch charm. Instead it delivers lots of enjoyable, high-energy musical numbers. The great cast includes Michelle Pfeiffer and Queen Latifah, but Christopher Walken and John Travolta (in drag and in a fat suit) deliver the real highlights as Tracy’s parents. Watching these two actors from the classic song and dance tradition perform a romantic duet together is a delight to be savoured.

Originally appeared in The Big Issue, No. 287, 2007

© Thomas Caldwell, 2007