Hairspray Live! full movie review - A new tradition, hitting perfection, simply Divine!
It's nearing 30 years since the release of the original John Walters comedy classic that rocked my world and had me doing the Madison in 1988.
The Broadway musical, coming at the time when the medium was arising from a self-induced coma, was even more thrilling with new songs and dances, starting a lengthy run that only came to an end due to the recession of 2008. Having seen Harvey in the early months of the run in the fall of 2002, and one of his many replacements, I was looking forward to the movie version in 2007. Unfortunately, as entertaining as it was with a few thrilling performances, much of the magic was gone. But the magicians have pulled the rabbit out of the hat, and the rabbit is thumping with 40 karats!
An extraordinarily group of young talents join an incredible ensemble of veterans who are having a ball bringing this Tony Award winning musical fully back to life. Maddi Baillo has the energy, sweetness and no nonsense attributes to be Tracy Turnblad, the 60's teen with a little extra girth who longs to dance on TV and puts the smug snobby racists in their place, in the process bringing her sheltered mom (Harvey Fierstein, deliciously repeating his Tony winning role) out of her ironed in shell and striving for the love of the non- judgmental hunk (Garrett Clayton). But the nasty program manager (Kristen Chenoweth) and her dumb but equally hateful daughter (Dove Cameron) put their worst feet forward to stop Tracy from getting the guy and integrating the show.
Among the veterans who provide hysterical supporting performances are Andrea Martin as the uptight, bigoted mother of Tracy's outcast best pal (Ariana Grande), Martin Short as Tracy's easy going pop, Rosie O'Donnell as a nasty teacher, and Sewn Hayes as Hefty Hideaway proprietor Mr. Pinky. Cleverly inserted into the dance numbers are a few former movie and stage Tracy's, looking very much like the character to provide a nice tie-in. Grande gets to break out when she hooks up with the direct but honorable young black teen (Ephraim Sykes) whose mother is the outrageous Motor Mouthed Maybelle (Jennifer Hudson) who brings the young generation of different cultures together and gets to reveal the show's moral with my personal favorite song, "I Know Where I've Been", ironically one of the only real standout moments in the 2007 film. However, she is more glam, and lacks the commanding presence that made the character stand out in the previous incarnations.
Energetic singing and dancing, an adult edge and some great suggestive representational sets give this a live stage performance feeling. Like the feeling I get when listening to the cast album, certain moments gave me chills. In the switch from the action to commercials, keeping actors in character as they do product pushing. My only analysis about the hosting is the preview of what is coming up as really unnecessary. The show and the cast were selling themselves, and that element took away spontaneity and showed unjustified insecurity. A few moments provide questionable choices, but most of the buttons have been fastened, giving a happy end to this chapter in a revolutionary story.