Hairspray The Shake And Shimmy Edition Adam Shankman

Hairspray The Shake And Shimmy Edition Adam Shankman
After the relative post-Chicago funk (see most particularly The Phantom of the Opera and The Producers) displayed in big fat Hollywood movie musicals, Hairspray comes as a bit of a surprise. Plagued with questionable casting (John Travolta in an iconic queer role eternalised by Divine and reinvented masterfully by Harvey Feirstein), a questionable director (Adam Shankman, previously of The Wedding Planner and The Pacifier fame) and a dubious audience (only Dreamgirls had made any money since Chicago, and summer hasn’t been proven as a musical stomping ground since 1978’s Grease), the film somehow managed to become not only the sleeper hit of the summer but also one of the best. Full of an insatiably feel-good energy and practically vomiting "clap your hands” charisma, Shankman’s reinvention of a reinvention somehow works across the board. The simple, if not subversive, tale is of plump teenager Tracy Turnblad (Nikki Blonsky, in an impressive debut), who, despite her size, rises in the ranks of Baltimore’s early ’60s dance culture by way of TV’s The Corny Collins Show, a must-see for any local teen. Her journey sends revolutionary waves both through her mother, Edna (John Travolta, who gets by, but whose casting is probably the film’s greatest downfall), an overweight shut-in, and the city’s separate-but-equal African-American community, who Tracy befriends and helps in their metaphorical quest to be able to dance regularly on Corny themselves. An ode to difference, Hairspray is chock full of uber-catchy musical numbers and luminous performances (particularly from Blonsky, fellow newcomer Elijah Kelly and Michelle Pfieffer as the film's ice queen embodiment of racist America). And much of that is owed to director Shankman, who obviously just wasn’t working on the right projects. A former choreographer (of Boogie Nights and Buffy’s musical episode "Once More With Feeling,” no less), Shankman designed all the moves himself and his over-ambition was not unfounded. Right up to its final show-stopping number, "You Can't Stop The Beat,” Hairspray is an absolute hoot. And despite the lame title, The Shake and Shimmy Edition has a lot to offer beyond the film. An entire supplementary disc is devoted to extras, including a lyric track where you can sing along to the whole movie. And for those less interested in such involved goodies, "The Roots of Hairspray,” a three-part mini-doc detailing the film’s origins, both in the Broadway musical, John Waters’ film and the real show the Waters film was based on (The Buddy Dean Show), is excellent, offering some great quips by the endlessly entertaining Waters and some truly interesting history. Add to that some decent deleted scenes (including an entire musical number), three docs on the "making of” the film (with numerous "look, it’s Toronto” moments), and a deconstruction of the choreography, and, well, you really can’t stop the beat. (Alliance)