Thursday, July 26, 2007

A brief list of things that rocked about the new Hairspray movie

1. If they had told Christopher Walken "OK, just play the character CC is least likely to find attractive" he did a great job. And there was still something about the guy...

2. Along the same lines, Tracy Turnblad's parents were hot for each other, not it a tacky way, but in a way that felt incredibly vital and real and with a deep current of love and friendship. Loved it, and their number together was one of the best in the show.

3. Once one has seen this musical, it's very hard to remember that the original was not a musical. It works really well as one.

4. Michell Pfieffer sings a rhumba and she's all Ursala the Sea Witch about it and incredibly beautiful and evil and nifty. Like 20 minutes into the movie, I knew I would buy the soundtrack.

5. They made Penny sexy. If you had told me they made Penny sexy before I saw this movie, I would have been skeptical about it. But Amanda Bynes (Amanda Bynes? Really?) gives her character a fire that really brings something to the movie.

6. Allison Janney is in it. Her part is tiny, though she does a really good job with it. But she's Allison Janney and she rules and her character is totally different from the West Wing character and they are both totally different from her Drop Dead Gorgeous character. She plays a different role in every movie and she rocks.

7. Queen Latifah plays the same role in every movie and also rocks. And her costumes!

8. Having Tracy's mom played by John Travolta was a controversial decision, but I loved it. Having someone who can really dance play Tracy's mother was really smart and opened up the opportunity for some neat stuff.

9. This deserves a separate mention. Tracy's mom gets some dignity and some pathos and she is so much more sympathetic that Divine's version, who is more or less just a figure of fun.

10. The movie does a wonderful mix of bleeding-heart snarkiness that I really love.

11. If you don't live near me, you probably don't know this, but Baltimore totally still looks like that.

12. Like when the Simpsons makes fun of UUism, they did have fat jokes, but the only people who really made them were intolerant idiots.

13. John Waters played a flasher and I was like "That's John Waters!" and Jana who creates and I got the giggles which felt totally appropriate and cool.

14. Oh my word can the girl they got to play Tracy can sing. She was amazing.

15. We stayed to watch the credits and there were these two girls in the back dancing to the music in the background and it rocked.

This leads me to the following conclusion:

16. I'm a big dork who strongly prefers the new hairspray to the old hairspray. And I know that is completely uncool and no doubt makes me a bad GenXer, but there you go.

I'm going again Friday night with LinguistFriend, the Chalicerelative and theCSO if he's up for it.



Lilylou said...

Good grief, CC, I thought I could wait till it came out on DVD to see it. Now I realize I can't. Thanks a lot! No, really, thanks!

PeaceBang said...

I can't wait to see it! We talked about it last night at dinner and I think it would have to be concluded by some of my pals that you are indeed a bad girl for preferring the musical version to the original. I still haven't seen the Divine version, for which I was jumped all over last night (in a puppy way, like "ya gotta gotta gotta see it!"). Thank you for referencing Ursula the Sea Witch (I would totally want to audition to play that part if they bring "The Little Mermaid" to Broadway -- I have used "Poor Unfortunate Souls" as an audition number and it's awesome).

To me, Allison Janney was the most memorable character in "American Beauty." I think she was on screen for like 8 seconds.

epilonious said...


I loved the movie too... I sort of feel like I wish I had seen the musical just because while John Travolta did a good job... I feel like Harvey Firestein or Bruce Vilanche would have done a great job. The other problem is that all the face padding on John means he only ever had two expressions (gamut of emotions from A to B, if you will). But he could dance.

Otherwise, this movie had me getting all excited and writing in my seat. I don't think I have had that happen in quite a long time.

RandomRanter said...

Snap - I said the same thing when I saw the flasher. Anyhoo, I though John Travolta did a passable job, but it was a shame someone a little better able to inhabit the role (or with a better Baltimore accent) couldn't have played the part because then the parents duet would have rocked.
But still - awesome!

Rick Hoyt-McDaniels said...

Not going to see it. The problem is John Travolta. How much money is that guy going to make from this movie that he is then going to give to Scientology to help them (among other things) continue to denounce homosexuality as a disease that needs to be cured? i saw the show on Broadway with Harvey Feirstein and everything you say in praise of the musical is true. But buy the Broadway soundtrack and watch the original movie and leave this bit of celluloid hypocrisy alone.

epilonious said...

Rev. Ricky:

Hi. I'm a gay man.

I once got into a very large online spat with another gay man who was going to sell his Ford SUV becuase there was a rumour that FoMoCo caved to the "family foundation" or whatever when they pulled ads for lux marques (aston martin, volvo, jaguar) in several gay publications.

The fact of the matter was, FoMoCo was pulling those ads in favor of consolidated ads showing all the Ford brands together (ford, lincoln, mercury, mazda, volvo, aston, jag)... and the family foundation took the press release and twisted it to make it look like their pressure did something.

I also learned that people who actively and outspokenly eschew things that apparently slander/libel us struggling LGBT types are massive pills.

John Travolta is not the new Anita Bryant. Just because he digs Scientology, and some Scientologists don't dig LGBT, doesn't mean I feel bad about paying to see a movie I enjoyed. If you don't want to see the movie that's fine... but the whole Travolta <--> Scientologist <--> hating all gays connection is spurious at best.

Chalicechick said...

Yeah, I never know what to do with these issues. I mean, if I wanted to find a pre-20th century writer or artist with views on women that I really liked, I would have to look really hard. My usual inclination, with historical figures and otherwise, is to focus on the good things people do and ignore any backwards views they might have.

But I know that's not a perfect solution.

Rick Hoyt-McDaniels said...

Perhaps no one is interested in going too much into Scientology in comments about Hairspray (which I'm sure is very nice - I liked both the original movie and the Broadway show) but Scientology is not just weird - it's destructive. And when a major Scientology figure, who has himself often been rumored to be gay, stars in a movie that emerged from gay creators (Waters, Divine) and is itself a celebration of diversity (of several kinds) the hypocrisy is to a degree where I feel it's worth thinking about.

I live near the Scientology headquarters in Hollywood and when I drive by I see their big animated elctronic sign urging people to read Dianetics. Here' what that book says about homosexuality (p.140-141) "The sexual pervert {he means gay men and lesbians and others] is actually quite ill physically... and the sum of it is that the pervert is always a very ill person in one way or another, whether he (sic) is conscious of it or not." {Hubbard then dismisses the standard psychology theories of how the perversion develops as being inadequate to the extreme abnormality of the condition} "Hence the pervert, containing hundred of vicious engrams, has had little choice between being dead and being a pervert. But with an effective science to handle the problem, a society which would continue to endure perversion and all its sad and sordid effects doesn't deserve to survive."
Dianetics isn't a book that Scientology used to follow and now disavows. They tell people to read it as though the book has the secret to mastering life's problems - so the connection between Scientology and hatred of gays is not spurious, it's current Scientology doctrine.
And Chalice Chick, this really isn't like the situation of needing to forgive older artists and authors for not reflecting the evolved cultural values of today. John travolta lives in today's world. He knows what we know and lives in the culture we live in. That he knowingly gives his money to a hateful organization does make me relucant to give him my money.

Anonymous said...

Hubbard wrote other things later that take a milder view on homosexuality. A few scientologists are antigay, but most of them are pretty tolerant.

Do you also boycott movies with prominent Christian actors because some Christians are anti-gay and Christians try to get people to read the bible?

Rick Hoyt-McDaniels said...

i was going to say no and then I realize that I guess I do. I would never see a Mel Gibson movie because of his various forms of bigotry and anti-semitism - some of which is related to his particular version of Catholicism. But Christianity at it's core is not inherently destructive (and I don't mean just to gays) the way that Scientology is. If given a choice of where to spend my money I'd rather support folks who are working toward a similar vision of the world as my own. It's the same with where I give my charity dollars, and which church I attend, and how I expend my own resources of talent and time. It's called living by principles.