Last night Maggy and I went to the movies. Our selection? Hairspray, the remake of John Waters’ movie that became a Broadway sensation. First, this is a musical so my friend Danny automatically will not see this movie. He didn’t even like GREASE! I don’t know why I remain his friend.
Hairspray is set in the racially charged 1960s Baltimore. Tracy Turnblad (played by unknown Nicole Blonsky) is a high school girl with a big dream to be one of the regulars on the Corny Collins Show (think Dick Clark & American Bandstand). In an audition the icy station manager (cruelly played by Michelle Pfeiffer) informs Tracy that someone her size would never be a part of the show. The themes of bias against those who are overweight and the poor self-regard this can cause are precursors to a bigger theme. Through a turn of events Tracy does become one of the regulars. What started out as a story of the unlikely girl becoming a chosen one turns into a story about struggles of racial integration. Corny Collins Show has a ‘Negro Day’ once a week. Even on ‘Negro Day’ there is a roped off area; The blacks and whites are not allowed to dance together. The tension begins there, told through fabulous songs and dance routines. Queen Latifah lays down some great songs and has a great role as the spokeswoman for Negro Day.
There are several serious themes here, and a lot of Kingdom message to be found. Racial injustice, the right of all people to be treated with respect, and the struggle to understand each other as individuals instead of races … all smartly written into the songs and dialogue. To be sure some big issues are treated with over-simplification, but we really can’t afford to forget that these themes still need to be addressed today. Especially in the church.
Aside from the serious stuff, there are plenty of laughs. Nicole’s mother, Edna Turnblad is played by a heavily padded and made up John Travolta. Travolta is great in this role and it’s great to see him return to a genre where he excels, music and dancing, usually as a man. And who can pass up a great song and dance with husband and ‘wife’ John Travolta and the usually creepy Christopher Walken?
Needless to say, we enjoyed it! Here’s the trailer, if you haven’t seen it: