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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
PG
Cast
John Travolta
Queen Latifah
Amanda Bynes
Christopher Walken
Nikki Blonsky
Michelle Pfeiffer
Zac Efron
Brittany Snow.
Directors
Adam Shankman.
Screenwriters
Leslie Dixon.
Running Time
110 minutes

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Hairspray
Tell your momma you gotta use it


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Plot
Early ’60s Baltimore, and Tracy Turnblad (Blonsky), a big girl with big hair and an enormous heart, dreams of appearing on teen TV dance party The Corny Collins Show. Her wish is granted, but not all goes according to plan...


Review
Hairspray

From the opening sequence, in which Nikki Blonsky’s tubby teen, Tracy Turnblad, delivers a wonderful ode to her home town of Baltimore from atop a garbage truck, the tone is set: trashy in the extreme, but never rubbish.
Far from it, this lively and unashamedly kitsch adaptation of the stage musical, itself adapted from John Waters’ finest mainstream movie, is a real crowd-pleaser.
 
The most notable stars, including John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer and Christopher Walken, enjoy varying degrees of success, but it’s the army of adolescents that steals the show. Travolta takes the role of Edna Turnblad, Tracy’s mum (played by Divine in the 1988 original), and encased in a latex fat-suit he pulls off a remarkable homage to Tina Turner in the final scenes. Up to that point, however, Travolta’s rotund female is a bit of a drag.
 
Walken, meanwhile, fails to consistently hit the right note, here playing Edna’s chubby-loving hubby, shorn of humorous lines. But Pfeiffer delivers a stinging performance, positively buzzing as Velma Von Tussle, the bigoted producer of The Corny Collins Show, and James Marsden, as its eponymous host, is cheesily terrific.
The youthful denizens of that show, on the other hand, all perform admirably, revelling in the expert direction of dancer-turned-director Adam Shankman. While his earlier directorial efforts - including The Pacifier and Cheaper By The Dozen 2 - failed to inspire, here he excels, eschewing frenetic MTV editing in favour of a simple yet robust style, which allows his fruity, pastel-clad preeners to trip merrily across the screen, led by Blonsky’s preternaturally cheerful Tracy.
 
High School Musical star Zac Efron shines as Tracy’s potential beau, while Elijah Kelley is sensational as the daughter of Queen Latifah’s Maybelle. The latter’s rendition of I Know Where I’ve Been is one of the many musical highlights.
 
The integrity of Waters’ picture, focusing on the fight against racial segregation, is somewhat diluted, but Shankman never intended a character-driven, morally sound movie. Instead, he has crafted a piece of fluffy puff featuring more camp activity than a Boy Scouts holiday.


Verdict
Offering plenty of body and a lot of lift, Hairspray gels kitsch styling with show-stopping tunes to mould a memorable musical.


Reviewed by Will Lawrence

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Hairspray
Empire Star Rating

Amazing !!!!

My Favorite Musical Ever. Watch It Nearly Every Month. Superb Cast With So Much Fun And Laughter Too Enjoy !!!! Easily The Best Musical Ever ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ryanchallenger at 01:58, 26 June 2011 | Report This Post


Amazing !!!!

My Favorite Musical Ever. Watch It Nearly Every Month. Superb Cast With So Much Fun And Laughter Too Enjoy !!!! Easily The Best Musical Ever ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ryanchallenger at 01:58, 26 June 2011 | Report This Post


i was really suprised but i enjoyed this film so much. a good escape with great sing a long songs and a wonderful cast! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by vivlitherland at 20:54, 18 June 2009 | Report This Post


Highly entertaining musical with a colour pallet and kitschy style that hurts your eyes more than once. The songs are totally `60s style with some great twist and rock-n-roll music. Nikky Blonsky is really funny and convincing in the lead part and carries the film without problems. The story of course is exremely predictable but in this case that doesn`t matter at all, you expect nothing else from a movie like this. A truly uplifting film. That`s what makes it even more a pity that in one par... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by TheGodfather at 21:28, 12 May 2009 | Report This Post


Funny, light hairspray

Great movie. Funny, touching, lively. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lynnshep at 00:56, 03 July 2008 | Report This Post


Funny, light hairspray

Great movie. Funny, touching, lively. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lynnshep at 00:56, 03 July 2008 | Report This Post


Funny, light hairspray

Great movie. Funny, touching, lively. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by lynnshep at 00:56, 03 July 2008 | Report This Post


i'm a huge musical fan and i have to say Hairspray is absolutely FANTASTIC i loved every minute. The racial issue wasn't to much to depress but it definitley showed a lot of awareness and was enough to touch anyone. Elijah Kelly was amazing and best song by far-Run and tell that! Amazing film! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by mozzy_gal at 18:15, 05 January 2008 | Report This Post


I usually hate musicals, but LOVED this movie!!! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by tallaght24 at 09:14, 27 November 2007 | Report This Post


Toe-taping Fun!

Wow, this is a great movie! The songs are catchy and make you wanna jump out of your seat and dance. The performaces were great, John Travolta was funny and qutie disturbing as Tracey's mum, Zac Efron is no doubt very attractive and quite sexy as her love partner and James Marsden is very strange but funny as Corny Collins. Great fun, brillant cast-making. I think this is the best film of Musicals for 2007. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by joanna likes films at 10:10, 22 November 2007 | Report This Post


Sorry, should have been Brittany Snow, not Murphy :) ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Pipkin3 at 00:06, 17 November 2007 | Report This Post


I wouldn't count myself as a musical fan, but this was so infectious I had a smile on my face throughout the whole thing! Unashamedly catchy songs and neatly paced. Its not without its niggles : Unsure whether Travolta convinced me he was a woman. Walken and Latifah are underused. Nikki Blonksy and James Marsden were great fun. But Amanda Bynes showed she had limited vocal talents. Brittany Murphy was devoid of any scenes to chew on and Zach Efron annoyed me. But Blonksy, Marsden and Pfeiffer ma... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Pipkin3 at 00:05, 17 November 2007 | Report This Post


A classic!

The most feel good film you'll see this year, which will put a great big smile on your face and leave you walking on air afterwards. Standout performance by Nikki Blonsky in a wonderful light musical, with a heart of gold. Brilliant! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by FlexDream at 22:58, 26 September 2007 | Report This Post


RE: Hairspray

I went along to this not really wanting to see it but as most of the summer tentpole movies this year have been hugely disappointing (Shrek, Spidey and Danny Ocean, I'm talking to you!), I figured what the heck. And I loved it. One of the most purely enjoyable movies I've seen all year. I defy you not to sit there with a huge smile plastered all over your face and your toes tapping.   A few misgivings: great as it was to see Pfeiffer back on the screen (and she looks fabulous), she pl... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by RJNeb2 at 13:35, 01 September 2007 | Report This Post


Hairspray

A musical dance through a story of racial divide in 1960's Baltimore Hairspray focuses on corpulent teenager Tracy Turnblad (Nikki Blonsky) and her dream of appearing on the 'Corny Collins Show', a local all singing, all dancing TV show featuring only the coolest kids in town. Her resulting success in obtaining a place on the show, and new found celebrity status, are made all the more confusing by a crush on 'Corny Collins Show' hotshot Link (Zac Efron) and the scheming of station boss Velma Von... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by JoeOE18 at 12:48, 30 August 2007 | Report This Post


Quite a surprise

After seeing the advert for this, I was a little unsure of whether it owuld live up to the expectations of other great musicals that we all know I love but I must say that I quite enjoyed it!!! It breaks away from the over-rated blockbusters that have swamped us this summer. I completely fell in love with Zac efron and gave us girls the hope that one day our desired Prince Charming will fall in love with us through the art of song and dance. I was quite surprised as well about the running time o... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by chesney1only at 13:26, 27 August 2007 | Report This Post


I think this was a good film as it was educational wrapped in song and dance, I think that adults prob understood it better than the younger ones but I took my 10yr old and she loved it, I explained bits of it to her about segregation which then made her ask more questions. best film in a long time. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ihogg77460 at 15:53, 21 August 2007 | Report This Post


I LOVE HAIRSPRAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST AMAZING FILMS EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!11 ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by BohemianBoy at 12:56, 18 August 2007 | Report This Post


RE: Nothing but fun, fun, fun

I can only agree with arcew! See, , the best movie of Summer 2007 - brilliant. ... More

Posted by frankj at 04:11, 18 August 2007 | Report This Post


This film is absoolutely fantastic! It has a great musical score that you will never forget. John Travolta is brilliant and this is his best role since Grease! Zac Efron is unbelievably gorgeous in this movie and Nikki Blonsky is amazing, especially when you consider this is her first role. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by I017597 at 17:45, 17 August 2007 | Report This Post


Nothing but fun, fun, fun

Ah, now, this is more like it.  After a summer that’s been beset by darkness – Spidey, Potter, the endless pissing rain – comes a ray of pure golden sunshine.  Hairspray is precision-crafted to make you smile.  Every frame of the film shines through with a golden optimism, a belief in a better life, and a wholehearted desire to make you enjoy your fricking self.  In short, it’s a proper movie: one that makes you want to live that life and have these people as your friends.&n... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by britesparc at 14:10, 16 August 2007 | Report This Post


Sing-A-Long

Today I wnt to the sing a long at the west end vue, it could have been fun if anybody other than me had been singing and there weren't rats running around the floor in the screen. Honestly if you go to a singalong please sing, it was slightly embarrassing to be singing it all by myself. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by odddaze at 21:56, 10 August 2007 | Report This Post


Sing-A-Long

Today I wnt to the sing a long at the west end vue, it could have been fun if anybody other than me had been singing and there weren't rats running around the floor in the screen. Honestly if you go to a singalong please sing, it was slightly embarrassing to be singing it all by myself. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by odddaze at 21:56, 10 August 2007 | Report This Post


RE: Amazing!

Definately. It flows together wonderfully. I wonder if this film will be remembered come Oscar time? I bought the soundtrack after leaving the cinema yesterday. I've worked through the CD about 5 times so far. I certainly can't stop the beat ... More

Posted by Gimli The Dwarf at 07:13, 10 August 2007 | Report This Post


RE: Amazing!

...and fantastically put together! The editing is /i]. I know it sounds like hollow praise, but I'd watched d 4.0  k before (and witnessed some /i] bad sound editing) so the work onray h a special mention. There isn't a second of screen time wasted, and it's coordinated so perfectly that it'd be churlish not to acknowledge Michael Tronick's efforts - dude! ... More

Posted by frankj at 02:10, 10 August 2007 | Report This Post


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