Hairspray
PG
Entertainment: +3
Acceptability: +3

Nicole Blonsky, John Travolta, Queen Latifah, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, Amanda Bynes, Allison Janney, Brittany Snow, Zac Efron. Musical comedy. Written by Leslie Dixon. Directed by Adam Shankman.

FILM SYNOPSIS: Based on John Waters 1988 cult classic, this new version concerns a local teenage Baltimore dance show coming to terms with integration. A salute to those who dont fit in, this nostalgic satire is set during the backdrop of the early 1960s, when racial inequality was about to meet its doom by a new generation of whites who found hypocrisy in the treatment of Americas blacks.

PREVIEW REVIEW: Im not a fan of men in drag movies, and the trailer to this one focused so much attention on John Travolta in a female fat suit that I found it a chore attending the screening. I had not seen the original and have always found the bizarre John Waters more antagonistic than talented. There just didnt seem to be anything in this films favor. Then the first number was sung by the exuberant new kid on Hollywoods block, Nicole Blonsky. Her characters hopeful, positive nature is captured in the amusing song that touts every day is an open door. Full of personality and gifted with a more than satisfying musical voice, the novice movie actress (this is her first film) is a treasure.

The film addresses racial issues, but never sacrifices its lighthearted nature. The supporting cast is up to the script and the musical numbers are lively and enlightening. Christopher Walken stands out as the leads dad, a sensitive man who owns a magic store called the Hardy Har Hut. And then theres Mr. Travolta. Move over Dame Edna, Travolta is the new girl in town. Funny, touching, Travolta meets the task. Not sure why this part needs to be played by a man, but it was first handled by Divine, a gay man who played women whenever possible. Perhaps the reasoning is to subtly let viewers know that this film is about all those who feel ostracized by society.

The biggest surprise of the summer, Hairspray is engrossing, touching and joyous. Of course, this is a cosmetic treatment of integration, but it successfully stresses that the differences in people help complement us as a species. (Think thats what God had in mind?)

The only letdown for me is the treatment of Christians. To show a generation slow to change, a stuffy, matronly mother becomes the caricature of narrow-mindedness. In one scene, she ties her teenage daughter to a bed in order to keep her from going out with a black youth. This being a comedy, the mother hurls holy water on her bound daughter while calling her devil child. Its funny, admittedly, but theres an underlying hostility. The story spotlights the evil of bigotry and the silliness that separates races, but the filmmakers use a cartoonish representation of a Bible-reader as the picture of villainy. In far too many movies, including this one, Christ and His church are becoming symbols of ignorance and intolerance.

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: New Line

Summary
Crude Language: There are several slight sexual innuendos and a couple of crude comments; we see a flasher played by John Waters.
Obscene Language: Contains a couple of minor expletives (damns) but I caught no harsh language.
Profanity: None
Violence: None
Sexual Intercourse: Trying to cause trouble in another home, a woman makes advances on a married man, but he is loyal to his wife.
Nudity: None
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: There are several slight sexual innuendos.
Drug Abuse: None
Other: None
Running Time: 115 minutes
Intended Audience: Older Kids and Up

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