Holy Hairspray - This Is Going To Be Good!
by Alex Billington
March 15, 2007
At ShoWest yesterday I had the pleasure of attending the big "gala" event of the entire show for New Line's upcoming summer film Hairspray, adapted from the musical (and original John Waters film). The full on extravaganza featured about 20 minutes of footage that would end up in a live performance on the stage from the respective singer in the movie. In addition to plenty of good free food, almost the entire cast was present: John Travolta, Christopher Walken, Queen Latifah, Michelle Pfeiffer, James Marsden, Elijah Kelley, Zac Efron, and newcomer Nicole Blonsky as the lead. And honestly, I was impressed at the footage I saw, and have a feeling this might be a big summer hit!
I'm not a big musicals fan, with a special dislike for both Chicago and Moulin Rouge. For the first time in a long time I was surprised to find myself enjoying Dreamgirls last year, the first musical in a while that I actually appreciated. And last night at the Hairspray event, I again found myself smiling while watching and being caught up in the songs they were singing. As best described by Robert at IESB, he called it the first musical in a long time to have the same catchy vibe since Grease.
The first song and clip they showed was at the very beginning with "Good Morning, Baltimore", sung vibrantly by Nicole Blonsky, a newcomer that they apparently found on MySpace to play the lead. You can read another full description of the songs sung and footage at Ain't It Cool News. In short, they went through about 5 or 6 other songs, each with a new lead and cast member who would come out and dance and sing their song live on stage.
However, jumping back to my impression on the film, since you of course won't be given a live show when you go to the theaters on July 20th to see Hairspray. It looked great, and the scenes looked like they all flowed very well. I'm always concerned in musicals when it's just too campy, where the characters break out into song mid-sentence. This didn't seem to be the case and it had a very colorful, very vibrant, and most of all, very catch feel too it. I couldn't help but wonder how many fans of the original movie or theatrical play there are out there?
It's really hard to describe in text alone not only how it looked and how impressed I was, but how unique all of the characters are. Remarkably, John Travolta wasn't as bad as you'd expect (playing a mother in a fat suit), and I do have another hatred for his ridiculously cheesy roles. We didn't see much of Christopher Walken's character, but I can't deny that I am pretty damn excited to see him dancing along side his wife in the movie - Travolta. Elijah Kelley is going to instantly earn incredible status in the singing community after Hairspray, just as Jennifer Hudson did after Dreamgirls. And DAMN can James Marsden sing and dance and act! I used to hate him (or his character Cyclops at least) in the X-Men movies, but man has he ever changed that opinion. Be ready to see all of these and more great actors show you a good time this summer.
I'll definitely be pushing this trailer hard when it finally comes out. I was definitely impressed and hope that it will find an audience, even if that's is or isn't comic book movie fans who all just saw 300 this weekend. Either way, Hairspray is going to make a pretty big impact in the already incredibly full summer line up, and will theaters on July 20th - the same day as I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry.