Hairspray

October 4, 2007 at 10:30 am | Posted in Film Review | Leave a comment
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Oct 4, 2007 by


Film Hanger

Paper Hanger Blog
Wellington
New Zealand

This remake of the 1988 original by John Waters – also based on the Broadway musical. John got to do a cameo right at the beginning – as the neighbourhood flasher!

The film had a ‘bright clean’ fell to it; I subsequently attributed this to the influence of the Musical and the involvement of the Musical’s writers.

The film exams all kinds of social segregation – fat & thin, black & white, even young & old. It is all very serious, treated in a very sugary way – i.e. there is no sense of ominous weight of history that a more ‘serious’ drama would have injected. One of the things illustrated through obsurdity is the segregation that took parts of the USA in 1962: the mlocal TV music show has a ‘negro day’. This is so un-PC, cringe matterial, and in real life unacceptable today, that you just had to laugh.

Tracy cannot appear on the local TV dance show because she is fat; the negros cannot appear on the show because they are not white.

Because this is a happy musical, everything ends happily – integration, true love, cheats exposed.

I found the film very political – all those subjects treated in a stark bright, yet clean, cartoon way – and so I was a little uncomfortable through the whole film. It achieved its intended effect of conciousness raising and condemnation. I laughed at times, but it was an uncomfortable laugh, because the alternative was to be depressed.

John Travolta playing the part of Tracy’s mother gave the film a different dimension: I was a little distracted – there was no way due to pre-release PR not to know it was him in the part.

I need to watch the original again, because my memory – poor – was that the original was not so overtly political.

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