Sunday, July 22, 2007
La Madre and I saw Hairspray last night. Despite my initial reservations, as in, “The first Hairspray was great so why do we need another”-kind of reservations; I liked it. All the young actors were terrific, especially the Tracy Turnblad and Seaweed characters, and Queen Latifah held it down as a feisty Motormouth Maybelle.
John Travolta’s makeup looked great, but are there no magical Hollywood effects that can cure man hands? I thought his work was adequate but it didn’t feel entirely necessary. John Waters gave the original role to his muse Divine after all, it doesn’t mean it’s now a standard for a man to play it. And I didn’t get the Baltimore accent. It’s great that he went for such authenticity, but if you’re the only person in a movie set in Baltimore with this peculiar accent, then, well, you appear to be the only person in the entire city of Baltimore with a Baltimore accent. Why do it?
Okay, I’ll stop hating.
Waters makes a brief cameo in the opening number as the neighborhood flasher (of course he needed a role of such lewd distinction), and Jerry Stiller and Ricki Lake pop up later in the film as well. It makes me feel a little better to know that the new version has received the original’s blessing.
It’s kitschy and sweet, which is a surprisingly good way to deal with the ludicrous ways of that era. Negro Day. Wow.
In the film, all of the students of color seemed to be permanently stuck in detention. In 2007, students of color were permanently kept in ESL classes at a Dallas public school, despite perfect command of the English language.
We've still got some work to do.