Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Hairspray (the movie) Review (very, very late)

Allow me to list my grievances and a few good points...

1) Rampant and careless use of Auto-Tune (pitch correction). The soundtrack sounds like Cher's "Believe" and Lil Wayne had a digital, useless baby. It's horrible and would be completely unnecessary if they cast people who can actually f*cking sing. Pitch correction should be used for tweaking a great take with a small flaw, not re-pitching an entire song. grrrrrrrrrrrr

2) Zac Efron (Link). Zac Efron is very good looking and can carry a tune. If that is all the casting criteria for the lead guy in a major movie musical, then he's fine. But it should definitely, definitely not be. There are thousands of more talented kids who should have been cast before him. Also, see grievance #1

3) Amanda Bynes (Penny). Amanda Bynes is cute and has a decent look for the part of Penny. Unfortunately, her comedic timing has not improved much since "All That" and she completely bombed some potentially funny moments. Also, Penny has one of my favorite singing parts in the Broadway cast recording and Amanda crapped all over it. (Incidentally, it's "...and I'm nye-va go-in back". Love it.) See grievance #1.

4) Queen La(f*ckin)tifah (Motormouth Maybelle). Why. WHY?!!!! If a small community theatre was doing Hairspray and they only knew one large black woman and she was The-tifah, then fine. Maybe. But it's the G-damn MOVIE! Find someone, anyone, who can sing! Cast a skinny black woman that can sing! Cast John Travolta in drag and blackface! Motormouth Maybelle needs to be f*cking fierce and own her songs. The-tifah is not and did not. She flubbed a fierce part in Dreamgirls and now she's done it again. See grievance #1.

5) Multiple cut songs. Why?

6) Elijah Kelley (Seaweed). I assume that in real life, this guy could probably sing circles around most of the people in the cast. So why oh why did they digitally alter the shit out of his songs? Otherwise he danced his ass off, and acted it well enough. One thumbs up. And one of the best leads in the movie.

7) Brittany Snow (Amber). She was fine at what she did, but that's because they cut out songs she should have sang that I assume she couldn't.

8) John Travolta (Edna Turnblad). Honestly, this was not the worst casting decision of the movie in my opinion. I am not married to the idea of Harvey Fierstein as Edna. Do I think Harvey should have been Edna in the movie? Probably. Do I think that what they tried to do with Travolta failed? Miserably. But, I honestly kind of liked what they were trying to do. Also, it was ironic when Travolta tells Tracy not to kiss one of those "crooners" which is the role he would have played had this musical been made 30 years earlier. Still, it should not have gotten past screen testing. Also, I was waiting for Travolta to wail on some songs, and instead he sounded like he was quietly singing in a little studio while you could see him dancing all over the stage. Basically, whoever was in charge of all the vocal recordings for this movie should be dragged through the streets. And I mean that in a loving way. The way they turned inspiring and heart-pumping anthems into lethargic snoozers was nothing short of miraculous.

9) Christopher Walken (Wilbur). He was great. I wonder if I would have liked him as much had the rest of the cast been better, but he was a breath of fresh air in an otherwise mediocre cast. He was the only star that was cast because of his name that actually delivered.

10) James Marsden (Corny Collins). I take that back. James was great too. I don't know if more could have been done with the role, but I thought he was pretty solid.

11) Michelle Pfeiffer (Velma Von Tussle). Blah. Not terrible. Not great. See grievance #1.

12) Taylor Parks (Little Inez). Awesome. Kudos.

13) The dancing in the movie was pretty great. There were moments where the cast was dancing in the street that it started to look like an old-fashioned, take-us-or-leave-us, we're not going to apologize for being a musical with people breaking into song and dance, kind of musical. This is an element that most new movie musicals lack. They tend to make excuses for arguably random "musical" moments where a character, or a group of people bust out into dance or song. For the most part, this movie was fearlessly a musical, and I respect that a lot. I do think that Link should have been cast with someone who is almost as good a dancer as Seaweed, but not in the same style. Efron is not that.

14) Nikki Blonsky (Tracy). She was pretty good. I kind of get the very deliberate choice to strip "Tracy" of her character voice, but I missed that voice. I think it added a lot to the show, and was just one more thing about the movie soundtrack that was less exciting than the Broadway version.

Agree or disagree? Let's hear it...

1 comment:

Angela said...

Penny Pingleton is a dream role of mine. And I HATED what the movie did with that character. I don't even know if it was Amanda Bynes' fault or if it was a directorial thing... Just bad.

And that "nyev-uh go-in back" is my favorite line as well.