Monday, September 3, 2007

Monday Song of the Day + a movie review

I'm Blue by the Ikettes (click to listen)

Since I saw the movie Hairspray (the new one) last night, here's one from the soundtrack of the original 1988 movie.

Movie review: Fair. The music was surprisingly good as were the dance numbers. Some went on too long though. Part of the charm of the original was the decidedly low-budget vibe which lent it a quirky charm. The producers toss that away by hiring big name stars to play all of the adult roles. Since I didn't recognize Michelle Pfeiffer until seeing her name in the closing credits, I can't blame her. But the decision to cast John Travolta as Edna Turnblatt in the tradition of Divine seems like a cynical box office gimmick. His performance in this role was very distracting. Not once during the movie did I forget that yes, this was John Travolta in drag. And while the idea of Christopher Walken singing a love song to Travolta sounds amusing, it falls flat in actual execution. Queen Latifah's character, a record store owner/DJ/budding civil rights leader seems very out of place. Every other adult character in the movie was a cartoonish caricature but hers seemed like an all-wise 2007 person dropped into a 1962 movie. While it is a movie that purports to espouse racial equality in a fun and irreverent way, it seems as though they were afraid to create a silly African American character for fear of offending someone (most likely "progressive" White folks). Her earnestness amidst all of the goofiness was jarring.
The kids in the movie though were uniformly excellent. The movie really shone when the adults were off-screen and the kids were allowed to perform without the distractions of the big name adult actors. As I said, the music was surprisingly good. Much better than a typical Andrew Lloyd Webber production. I am even interested in purchasing the soundtrack of this one to go beside that of the original.

Oh yeah, a postscript: I noted this while watching but forgot until I read a review, the movie very carefully avoided showing a kiss between husband and wife characters Christopher Walken and Travolta following their love song number. It seems pretty cowardly and is quite noticeable in context. Honestly it wouldn't have been shocking or controversial. And its absence is entirely inconsistent with the message of the film.

No comments: