Last year’s overly-hyped but fatally-crippled Dreamgirls, despite its flawless casting, intriguing plot, and vast Oscar nominations, had me dig out my old Destiny’s Child CDs and use them as coasters for a week or so following. Its failure to find a successful balance oaf music and plot driving script meant it was overlong and song numbers were more annoying than exciting. To further dump on any of its achievements, the fact Dreamgirls was outdone by Disney TV movie/lifestyle phenomenon High School Musical, along with its cast of young, beautiful, carefree cockrings is ultimately embarrassing. It fell at all the criteria High School Musical excelled in, and the same can be said for Elijah Wood and his retardedly Happy Feet.
In this day and age of the silver screen is there still room for the classic musical? The uprising of high budget TV dramas running on movie budgets, and movie goers often just looking for 90 minutes of droll, mindless entertainment to fill some time raises the question is it worth the effort?. Censorship laws now allow gritty subject matters, and TV shows like The Wire, depicting corruption of Baltimore city would be hilariously out of place if set to music. Though after seeing Hairspray…a musical depicting corruption and racism in Baltimore city, this previous comment should possibly be reclined.
The movie is told through the eyes of the naïve and morbidly obese Tracy (Nikki Blonsky). Bored throughout the school day, she lives for the moment every day she can run home and tune into the dance fest ‘Corey Collins Show’…jumping up and down like an utter cretin through every second of it. The cast of the show are all members of Tracy’s school, which of course is the only school in Baltimore, and heart-throb bellend ‘Link’ (Zak Efron), struts the corridors waiting to be knifed in the face by a fellow, more badass classmate. To cut a long story short, Tracy ends up on the show to the distaste of Michelle Pfeiffer and her spoilt twat of a daughter, and begins a campaign for the integration of blacks on TV along with Queen Latifah and the black dance community of Baltimore.
Shown through the eyes of a child, the handling of the racial themes of the movie were in fact very successful. Although ignorant, Tracy’s failure to see any problem with integration is borderline endearing. However, in my opinion there was more room to gritty up the musical a little bit with some king of lynching scene set to a catchy 60s beat. No matter how much of a child audience it would have alienated...the harsh reality of racism would have been better realised, plus the movie would have been at least three times more awesome...right.
The movie’s musical numbers were overall very impressive. All the songs were noticeably different though equally catchy through, and whether it be because of the original Broadway musical or the achievements of the musical director, the sound of the movie is a brilliant amalgamation of pop music today and the sound of the 60s. The actors’ vocals were all very accomplished, though some more than others,
To put all cynicism aside this movie (for what it is…a musical) is near to perfect. The only issue with it possibly being the lack of screen time some actors got when they very much deserved it. For what is a long movie already running at two hours long director Adam Shankman made the right decision in keeping the plot moving rather than indulging in extended screen time for some characters. For example, Zak Efron, for the large star he has become actually had quite a minimal role. I really didn’t get to fully appreciate much depth in his character, and I lost all respect for him when he fell in love with our podgetastic leading lady, who made me shudder every time she raised her arms in the air. However, for the role of bland pretty boy love interest he was perfect and his character shone through in some moments.
The heroic return of musicals into popularity has been sudden, and in too many a case utter balls when compared to the greats such as Gene Kelly classic, Singin’ in the Rain. Hairspray however holds steadfast with its head high, and it’s a shame to think because of today’s judgemental audiences and advertising as a children’s movie that more people won’t see this. The opposite could be said for Sweeney Todd, which will lose a mass audience because of its 18 certificate and scenes of continual throat cutting.
…time to put on those dancing shoes, and go see Harispray!