Film4: Sunday 30 August, 1pm
It’s Tracy Turnblad’s dream to get a dance spot on the Corny Collins Show, Baltimore’s televised Top Ten taste-maker in the early 60s – “Once a month, we have Negro Day!” Newcomer Nikki Blonsky is Tracy, and she’s a ten-ton Tessie compared to Rikki Lake’s plump pudding in the original Hairspray of 1988. That’s not all that’s been added to John Waters’ disarming cult item. There are songs – loads of them – in a show that stomped all over Broadway like the dancing hippos in Fantasia. It picks up the beat midway, with three showstopping setpieces in a row, and the jokes seem to get sharper too. Until then, it’s a bit of a slog, the songs weak pastiches in a production-number world that’s a riot of spangly pink. And that’s just John Travolta. Taking the Divine role, Travolta is Tracy’s padded fat-suit mum, mortified that cameras are present at a Civil Rights protest march: “I cannot be seen on TV at this present weight!” Further tenuous Grease links are provided by Zac Efron (star of Disney’s Greased Lightnin’ High School Musical hits) and Michelle Pfeiffer (whose career survived Grease 2). Painfully skinny (it tends to stand out in this show), Michelle is Amber’s bitchy blonde mom, dance instructor and general all-round bossy boots, steering the kids in the ‘white’ direction. No wonder Queen Latifah warns the youngsters about to protest the TV company’s racist policies: “You’d better be prepared for a whole lotta ugly comin’ at ya from a never-ending parade of stupid.” James Marsden barely registers as Corny Collins, a pivotal role played more tellingly by Shawn Thompson in the 1988 movie. John Waters seems to have given the enterprise his blessing. He plays the flasher who lives next door to Tracy. Behind the camera, choreographer Adam Shankman is no Waters, alas. He went on to make the 80s atrocity Rock of Ages, so this would definitely count as a career high.
|Other Showings||Time & Date|
|Film4||Thursday, 3 September at 6:35PM|