Hairspray Review
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For Baltimore teenager Tracy Turnblad (Nikki Blonsky), the world is as big as her ultra-teased hairdo—and it’s hers for the taking. All she has to do is try out for a spot on her favorite afternoon dance show, The Corny Collins Show—and when she gets on the show, everything will be just perfect. She might even get the attention of dreamy Link Larkin (Zac Efron).

When Tracy first tries out for the show, though, the station manager, Velma Von Tussle (Michelle Pfeiffer), sends her away—because of her larger-than-average size. But then Tracy learns some new moves from the kids in detention—like Seaweed Stubbs (Elijah Kelley), one of the dancers who perform on the show’s popular Negro Day—and the show’s producers can’t deny that the big girl can dance.

Once Tracy gets a spot on the show, Velma begins to realize how popular the perky new girl has become—she’s so popular, in fact, that she might even steal the title of Miss Hairspray from Velma’s lovely daughter, Amber (Brittany Snow). And that will never do.

Just when you think the big-screen musicals can’t get any better…along comes Hairspray. It’s a little like Dreamgirls—in the sense that the music is spectacular and the cast (for the most part) is phenomenal. But it’s way more fun. It’s incredibly entertaining, it’s subtly irreverent (listen closely—some of the lyrics are hilarious), and there isn’t really a dull moment in it. And, well, you get to see Christopher Walken singing and dancing—which, if you ask me, practically guarantees a hit every time.

Though it took me a few minutes to get used to newcomer Nikki Blonsky’s over-the-top perky performance as Tracy, she quickly won me over—as did the spectacular musical numbers. I’ll even admit that I found myself tapping my foot along with the music—and I had to struggle to keep myself from applauding after some of the songs. They’re just that good.

And as for the casting, it couldn’t have been too much better. Blonsky’s energy is contagious, Christopher Walken is hilarious as Tracy’s dad, Queen Latifah was the perfect choice for Negro Day host Motormouth Maybelle, and Michelle Pfeiffer is just plain stunning (the woman never ages a day—and for that, I hate her just a little bit). In fact, the only casting choice that didn’t really work was the most controversial one: John Travolta, who plays Edna Turnblad, Tracy’s mom. In the end, Travolta-in-drag turns out to be more irritating than amusing. But, hey—the guy learned to dance in heels, so I’ll cut him a little slack.

Hairspray offers up an extra-large portion of summer fun. I guarantee you’ll leave the theater with a smile on your face and a spring in your step.

DVD Review:
We’ve all got a list of DVDs that we pull out when we’re having one of those days—the movies that can put a smile on your face no matter how horrible the day. For me, Hairspray is one of those movies—so the Shimmy & Shake Edition DVD will most likely earn a pretty prominent spot in my DVD collection.

This two-disc edition offers up an extra-large portion of features. Hairspray fans can learn about the entire process that brought this production to the big screen—from its inspiration, The Buddy Deane Show, to the 1988 cult film by John Waters, the Broadway musical, and beyond. For all those Broadway divas in the making, the DVD also offers a lyric track and step-by-step instructions to help you learn to cut a rug, Hairspray style. You’ll also find plenty of the usual stuff: deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes footage, and more. It’s all pretty interesting stuff—but the highlight of the two-disc collection is still the movie itself. So you’ll definitely want to pick up a copy of this song-and-dance spectacular on DVD—but unless you’re looking for some moves to show off at the next school dance, the standard edition will probably suit you just fine.

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