Hairspray (2007)

While a musical based on big hair and flamboyant outfits may seem like your general middle-aged woman’s fantasy movie, Hairspray contains greater themes than one might imagine. Behind a façade of sparkling outfits and John Travolta’s five hundred pound woman suit, there lies a poignant social commentary of racism in the 1960s.

The story centers on Tracy Turnblad, a teenage girl who has a passion for dancing and music. Because of her weight, she has to deal with the pain of being different from other kids in school, therefore leading her to the other different people in school—the African American population.

The story speaks on such themes as interracial relationships, media control over race, and many other topics. Many of the lyrics focus on racism, but the writers rely heavily on humor and upbeat, lively tempos to get their points across. The “Corny Collins Show”—which Tracy watches every day—begins every episode with a song “The Nicest Kids in Town,” of course referring to the upper-middle class white teenager. James Marsden sings, “Nice white kids who like to lead the way/And once a month we have our negro day!”

Adding to the amazing lyrics, the music behind it combines the tongue-in-cheek humor with an astounding ensemble of ’60s style music including large brass sections and great beats. It had me dancing out of the theater—literally.

The mix of wit, musical and lyrical talent and an important social point make this movie one of the best I have seen this summer.

-Amy Gardner


rotten tomatoes


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