By Clint Morris
Any brand of Hairspray generally helps your hair stay firm but as a youngster there was nothing quite as fun as spraying on some of the funky and colourful stuff. Thatâ€™s the type I remember. Now that was fun. If you wanted to stand out for a couple of hours, the sticky stuff with the colour palette was the head-gear to apply.
The film based on the play based on the film, â€œHairsprayâ€, is of the coloured variety â€“ its bright, its exuberant and itâ€™s a lot of fun while it lasts. I might even remember it as fondly as having green hairspray applied to my noggin by that foxy babysitter when I was ten years old. Like any bottle of hairspray though, it doesnâ€™t hold for as long as you like.
A flashy all-star remake of John Waterâ€™s classic campy culty 80s flick (starring Rikki Lake and Divine), â€œHairsprayâ€ tells the story of a short and stout young girl from Baltimore, Tracey Turnblad (Nikki Blonsky), who dreams of being a dancer on the local TV dance show, The Corny Collins Show.
She gets her wish â€“ much to the delight of mother, Edna (John Travolta!) and father Wilbur (Christopher Walken), as well as best friend, Penny (Amanda Bynes) â€“ but station manager Velma Von Tussle (a devilish Michelle Pfeiffer) is hell-bent on ruining her and thereâ€™s no way in hell sheâ€™s going to beat her daughter (Brittany Snow) in the upcoming dance competition.
This is an infectiously fun film. From the boppy musical numbers to the outrageously fitting production design, itâ€™s both easy on the eyes and music to the ears.
The cast are also superb and no matter how small their part, every one of the players is giving it their â€˜allâ€™ – and obviously having a ball. Stand-outs are Pfeiffer, newcomer Blonsky, the always underrated James Marsden (as show host, Corny Collins), new â€˜itâ€™ boy Zac Efron (as love interest and dancing boy, Link), cutie-pie Amanda Bynes and predominantly, John Travolta.
Travolta has wasted away the last decade starring in such forgettable slop as â€œWild Hogsâ€, â€œBasicâ€ and, of course, â€œBattlefield Earthâ€. Now, for the first time since â€œPulp Fictionâ€, heâ€™s actually taken on a role that not only tests him as an actor but reminds us why Quentin Tarantino wanted him for Vincent Vega in the first place. Not only is taking on the role of Edna Turnblad a huge risk for Travolta â€“ it couldâ€™ve backfired big time, resulting in a darn lot of yoke on his face â€“ but itâ€™s never easy for an actor to play someone of the opposite sex â€¦ believably. Travolta does so, and boy is he terrific. Whether itâ€™s because heâ€™s in on the joke or whether heâ€™s psyched to be involved in a musical again â€“ yep, he does sing and dance here, kids! â€“ the manâ€™s enthusiasm shines through like the morning sun does thru vertical blinds. Hereâ€™s hoping lightning strikes again real soon.
The film itself wears out itâ€™s welcome about an hour or so into it, if only because â€œHairsprayâ€ has never had anything resembling a knockout storyline (itâ€™s all pretty simple), but a short trip to heaven is still a trip to heaven, right?
Blu-Ray Details and Extras
Roadshow have a terrific looker on their hands here! Presented in a 1080p/VC-1 encode at the film’s original 2.40:1 aspect, this thing looks ab-fab! Flesh tones are warm and authentic-looking, colours vibrant and not-a-lot of bleeding (only noticed it in a couple of scenes – - couldâ€™ve been just the production design itself). The contrast knob may be turned up a bit high, but other than that this is a winner.
Audio-wise, how does 7.1 grab ya!? It grabbed me – - – by the balls and didnâ€™t let up! My speakers climaxed as soon as it realized I was giving more than the usual 5.1 hammer! The dialogue, songs and, er, tapping sound blissful on a nice home theatre set-up!
The extras come as thick as Travoltaâ€™s calves! Thereâ€™s a Sing-a-long feature (similar to the one on the â€œMamma Miaâ€ disc), instructions on how to dance like a Marsden or a Blonsky, a few deleted scenes, including a new musical number (which is actually pretty good â€“ why was it deleted!?), a documentary on the making of the movie (and a look back at the theatre show and previous film), and a couple of other teeny-weeny featurettes. Sadly, no commentary from Travolta though.