Movie Musical Monday: Hairspray (2007)
I wish that Disney, with all its recent musical live action versions of their animated films, would take a hint from 2007’s Hairspray, and cast properly with actors who can actually sing.
The casting for this film is near perfect. Nearly every person, save for Christopher Walken, has a legitimate singing voice. And even then with Walken, the one song that he sings is more along the lines of talk singing, so it works. The casting in Hairspray just proves that you can, in fact, cast a musical with big names and those big names have actual singing and dancing talent.
Speaking of musical talent, Hairspray marked a return to musicals for John Travolta, in the role of Edna Turnblad. Honestly, he’s pretty damn convincing. Every time I’ve ever watched this film, I find myself forgetting that Edna is played by a male dressed in a fat suit. Travolta just becomes very convincing, even down to the mannerisms. I will say that his Baltimore accent could probably have been done better.
The music in Hairspray is catchy. Some songs move the story along while others are used during the Corny Collins segments as part of the show. None of the songs are very complex, as far as harmonies.
Harispray does a good job of touching on the subject of race and racial segregation. But, that’s all it does: touch it. There’s not too much of a deep dive into the subject. But, what can we expect? It’s a movie musical, after all. What makes it not mean as much, is that it is Link that pulls Little Inez onto the dance floor. So, throughout the film, the good things that happen to black characters are usually the result of something that a white person has done.
All in all, Hairspray is an enjoyable movie musical. Is it the best? No. Is it one that a viewer would enjoy if they’re not too fond of musicals? Definitely not. But, it’s fun, with catchy music, so, what the hell?