Dave’s 3-Word Review:
An instant favorite.
This film was selected from ‘The 250’
A lot of people don’t like musicals because they aren’t “realistic”. Of course they aren’t. People busting spontaneously into dance grooves is most certainly strange and unrealistic. To be fair though, what exactly do you call Yoda in Star Wars? How about Superman’s powers? In a balance between what’s realistic and what’s not in film, unrealistic comes out as most used, because people enjoy unrealistic. It’s supposed to be that way because movies aren’t real life. Ever hear that one? So no, musicals aren’t realistic, but you’re not allowed to hate them for that reason alone because that just pokes holes in your own logic. Hairspray is one of those unrealistic musicals, and it was instantly one of my favorites the first time I saw it, and it’s still a very strong musical today.
It’s all about Tracy Turnblad, who is probably the bubbliest person you’ve ever met. What makes her unique is her color-blindness in regards to race because this film takes place at the turn of racial segregation into integration. Tracy plays a vital role in reaching the hearts of her family and society as a whole into acceptance and love of all races. She uses the power of the media to get her message across, through a daytime TV dance show. It only becomes her true goal when she is introduced to the extremes of racism – something she didn’t even understand at first.
You gotta love Tracy Turnblad. Her entire personality is role model potential. She doesn’t let anything get her down or stop her from achieving her dreams. She loves everyone, and she has a lot of fun expressing her emotions through song and dance. As an audience member, you can’t help but notice there is a lot of songs…something like thirty in two hours, and they are all toe-tappingly catchy and memorable. They aren’t those weird…Broadway singing what your talking songs. No no, they are “go out and get a copy of the soundtrack” songs. If you can’t tell, this is one of my favorite musicals to date.
Also, how many movies about racism and segregation do we really have? So many, but the way it is presented here is so different. Instead of being overly melodramatic, this teaches you the same thing through fun and love. You see that it does affect them negatively, but the way they choose to respond to negativity is inspirational. It goes to prove you don’t have to have the same tone to teach the same message, and I think that’s incredibly important and relevant here. They once considered this movie the “Happiest Movie of the Year”, and while I can’t really say for sure whether that’s accurate, I feel like that makes perfect sense. There’s a lot of metaphorical and in-your-face messages that can’t be ignored.
Also, just look at the cast. I’m not always the biggest fan of too many known names in a movie, but sometimes…just sometimes…they find a way to accurately balance that focus – and they did that here. I love that there are a lot of surprising actors here – actors that you didn’t know could really sing. I won’t spoil it for you, but watch the movie…you might be impressed.
There is so much good to really say about this movie, but the main points are – the songs are simply to die for. You’ll be tapping your toes and fighting the urge to dance yourself. Also, the characters and the light happy tones are so fantastic. Finally, the messages of segregation and integration are presented in good taste. It’s just a great movie all around.
If I had to complain about something in the movie, I would probably have to say plot. It had some absolutely amazing messages, and the journey to get there is unforgettable, but I’m old school, I prefer a solid plot of good guy tries to get to this place to do that thing and hits a bunch of obstacles before ultimately doing that thing. While some of that was here…I don’t know, the music obviously watered down the actual story. It got the emotion just fine, but the story…I’m not so sure, honestly.
I worked at a movie theater when Hairspray came out, and I would disappear at random intervals of the day to watch chunks of it all of the time.