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!!cq