Saturday, September 01, 2007

At the Cinema

Having been up since early o'clock with a stuffed up nose, I realised I never posted my review about Hairspray 2007.
I went with my darling Bobkat on one of our pizza and movie nights.
Now, I posted on this blog here how nervous I was of going to see a remake of one of my favourite timeless cult movies.

It wasn't an absolute copy, it was an updated version of a 60's dance movie - kinda. With all new song and dance routines, new stars (although some old familiar faces turned up) and headed up by the much vaunted Mr Travolta as Edna Turnblad, it was clear they anticipated this film being as popular as the original.
John Waters turned up in the first five minutes as a flasher, stamping his approval on the new version. Of course, if you didn't know Waters, you wouldn't have caught the signature appearance. In the original movie he was the psychiatrist brought in to 'de-programme' Penny Pingleton - not a lot of people know that!
Nikki Blonski, who played Tracy Turnblad, made a reasonable fist of recreating a legendary teen character. But I felt the new script lacked a lot of the punch of the original version. The way Tracy was admitted to the Council, the reason for her straightening her hair (she ironed it while in prison, after meeting Beatnik Chick, Pia Zadora), even the ending was rather pathetic and, I felt, was an expression of this new politically correct world.
I was desperately waiting for that immortal line 'Penny Pingleton, you are positively, permanently punished!' - and I had a long, long wait......

There were a few plus points -
Queen Latifah made a wonderful Motormouth Maybelle, but then can Queen Latifah do any wrong??
Elijah Kelley was a strong Seaweed character, although he lacked the spark of the original Clayton Prince.
The 2007 Penny Pingleton relied strongly on the original, complete with funky bunches and permanent chewing gum.
Christopher Walken made a loveable Wilbur Turnblad, and we even saw the Hardy Har Joke Shop! Finally, a proper opportunity for Christopher to show off his song and dance talents - and boy, can he dance, and has such a sweet singing voice!

Minus points -
It wasn't the original.
The original film opened with the excellent song 'Hairspray' ('Can't you see, I'm spraying my hair!') and had rocketing number after number (Madison Time, Mama Didn't Lie, Town Without Pity, Roach). The new film opened with 'Good Morning Baltimore' (which I hated) and the new songs weren't half as good as those in the original.
Michelle Pfeiffer as Velma Tussle was terrible. I was aching for Debbie Harry to step back into those marvellously vindictive shoes. And they screwed around with her character and somehow put her in charge of the Corny Collins show, which was very odd - because everyone knew Arvin Hodgepile was the owner of the TV station and therefore had the final say on programming. The new Velma did not work!
Sadly, after all the hype, John Travolta did not work as Edna Turnblad. Divine (the late Glen Milstead - who was also Arvin Hodgepile!) was a hard act to follow, and his Edna was the first, and the best. Travolta in a fat suit just didn't pull it off - not only that, but what with the fat face plates and John's own emphasised accent his words were muffled and often not heard at all - whereas Divine had a superb screech that meant every word was etched on your eardrums.
The only bit of the film where Travolta 'worked' was the achingly sweet dance routine with Christopher Walken - only really because we saw a whole new side to Walken that all the women just sighed over in the cinema. He managed to convey the depth of love Wilbur had for the overweight Edna with the duet 'You're Timeless to Me'.

So, whereas I would give 1988 Hairspray a 9/10, the 2007 version falls sadly short at only 6/10.

Not only all that, but they changed the ending, and got rid of the Auto Show - terrible [shakes head] - but then John Waters has always been unpredictable.

Lastly - a message for Mr Waters........PLEASE DON'T REMAKE CRYBABY!!



OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

I have not seen the NEW movie except for a clip here and there...(Not impressed...) And the Broadway Musical---well, again, ALL the music sounded the same and it was not a great show in my opinion....The Original movie, which you know a whole lot better than me, was relly wonderful on so very many levels....WHY remake it? WHY???? I will never understand taking something that was "perfect" and deciding to remake it with all these other elements and people...? OY!
There have been some wonderful films that wee gems to begin with which were lovingly transformed to the Musical Stage and are NEW Gems..."The Shop Around The Corner" and "SHE LOVES ME"...Wonderful, in every way and lovingly translated into this Musical Gem by the creaters true respect for the original material and the sublime film they adapted...

"My Sister Eileen" into "WONDERFUL TOWN"....Again, Brilliant adapters who had great GREAT respect for the Original....

"Divine" was an extrordinarally talented man who had something extremely special about him....And the collaboration of the wonderfilly talented Joh Waters and Divine...well, a colaboration that was pretty damned extrordinary...
I will have to wait to see this new "HAIRSPRAY" Movie to come out on DVD, but truthfully....I am not excited to see it....Your review made was very enlighening and I thank you for that, my dear.

Am on bit of a side note: I saw Divine the day before he died, in a kind of Special Small SuperMarket that is not that far from where I live and where I still get ALL of my groceries, etc, and in fact, the Apartment-Hotel Divine died in was within walking distance of that market---he was so young---A sad end to such a talented person....One wonders what further amazing collaborations might have happened between Waters and Divine had he lived.

Mr. Althouse said...

I head good things about it... but that was from John Travolta! I'll wait until it comes to HBO!

Michele sent me,


gautami said...

I like the detailed way you have written about the thoughts about the movie.

Michele sent me here to read that!

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Michele sent me back again ny dear...And I went on and on before so now I will give a little bit more Trivia: You know I live up on a hill and down at the bottom of that hill was an Apartmenm-Hotel where Janis Joplin Overdosed and died. (Ph Dear, I am telling you all these goulish things...Oh Dear, Oh

WendyWings said...

I have yet to see the remake and like others it probably won't happen until it comes out on DVD
John Travolta in the fat suit looks all wrong to me even in the small clips I have seen.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

The original Ricki Lake version was super. I haven't seen this one, though.

surcie said...

It's funny--the kids I know who've seen it think it's the best thing ever. The adults who knew the first one are utterly disappointed. I'll wait for cable, too. Thanks for the review!

Karen said...

See, I think this is interesting. I have a theory that you always like what you see first. If you read the book first, the movie never compares. If you've seen the Broadway show, the movie falls short. I still think it's true. I've never seen the original but I just really loved, loved, loved the 2007 movie. I thought it was so sweet and colorful and just really happy. Yeah, I'm pretty shallow that way. (Oh and I hated the Christopher Walken/John Travolta dance scene.) Maybe I'll check out the original, but I'm sure I won't like it as much because it's not the first one I saw - thus, my theory.

Just stopping by via Michele's. I too have a cold, so we agree on one thing! Hope you feel better soon!

Bob-kat said...

I was on my way over here to see you and popped into Michele's on the way. What do you know she must have known as she promptly sent me to see you!

I enjoyed the film but it did lack somthing for sure. The taalented Mr Walken was fantastic but as you say Mr Travolta just couldn't rival Divine. Overall, a good evening out for us though :)

The Turmanators said...

Sounds like a great cast minus the Michelle Pheifer debacle; too bad it wasn't up to snuff. I, too, loathe a remake. I also intensely dislike movies made from my favorite books. They NEVER measure up.

Michele sent me today!

Melli said...

Well, I've never seen the old OR the new ... I almost never watch a movie at all -- only if we're on vacation and I don't have ANYthing else to do! LOL! BUT... in just such circumstances I HAVE caught Queen Latifah in a thing or two -- and she is FABULOUS! I LOVE HER! So, I have to conclude that this Hairspray re-make must have value! :)

Paul said...

Hi. Here from Michele's.

Thanks for this critique. Been thinking about going to watch it. Maybe I'll wait till Blockbusters has it. It looks good, anyway.

Have a great holiday weekend.

David said...

moving day,
or I would have more to say.

here from michele's

Jean-Luc Picard said...

Michele returned me here. Those young people who like the new one probably never saw the vastly superior original.

moon said...

Here from Michele's today...
I really enjoyed your review..although I haven't seen it, I have NO desire too..and the points you made only reinforsed my reasons lol. All the hype about JT is so over rated, just by seeing the previews I can't believe he can seriously be taken for a woman...common! The way he says it in interviews is he wanted to be authentic ..not just a man in drag...well ...dude, it didn't work lol...
If I see the whole thing it will be when it's on Tv...
Have a good day ...and glad u are finally over that dreadfull summer cold.

Joe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joe said...

Sad that most people these days only know about the crappy John Revolting (Travolta) version - It should be illegal to remake a movie that co-starred Debbie Harry & Divine - there is nowhere to go but down!!