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Has Quint gone crazy? Could HAIRSPRAY actually be a ton of fun? His new ShoWest report here!!

Published at: March 15, 2007, 4:29 a.m. CST

Ahoy, squirts! Quint here with another night of ShoWest goodies to report on. Tonight I saw New Line’s big presentation on HAIRSPRAY and watched HOT FUZZ for the second time. HAIRSPRAY Am I crazy? I’m really doubting my sanity at this point… and I’m kicking myself for not bringing my camera… I mean, the security at these things is usually super tight. I’ve had to check my damn low-rent cell phone because it can take a 9k picture. So I didn’t risk it and, of course, I walked right in with no searching or hassle. I must be crazy because the trailer for HAIRSPRAY, the teaser that’s online, didn’t do a goddamn thing for me. The pictures of Travolta in a fat suit didn’t do a goddamn thing for me. In fact, I thought he looked ridiculous and creepy. All that didn’t work for me, but the nearly 10 minutes they showed at ShoWest completely turned me around. I was laughing, nodding my head along with the music and had a big, goofy grin on my face, I’m sure. Am I crazy to think HAIRSPRAY might not just be good, but a movie I really, really like? Maybe it was the atmosphere. Could be that. They had tons of food, which sucked for me because I didn’t expect it and had just dropped $16 on a buffet. They had giant canisters of hairspray, easily 20-30 feet high, all around the room. The inflated canisters even had fog machines in the nozzle that would randomly spray out. On top of that, they had a whole late ‘50s/early ‘60s theme going on, with the DJ spinning great oldies. The front of the ballroom was decked out like a ’50s TV dance party set, complete with of the era giant cameras. They started the footage, which was essentially a big collection of the musical numbers. I’m not very familiar with the stage play or the original John Waters film. Sure, I saw it as a kid, but I haven’t revisited it and don’t remember much of it. Right away, the colors popped. The reds bright, the yellows bright, but it still looked like a film, not like a spoof. Know what it kind of reminded me of? In spirit? Frank Oz’s LITTLE SHOP OF HORRORS. I guess it has a little to do with the period musical aspect, but visually and tonally I got that vibe… at least tonally pre-Audrey II murders. The footage started off with a tune called GOOD MORNING, BALTIMORE, sung by the plump and bubbly Tracy Turnblad (Nicole Blonsky). She’s great. She’s very natural in front of the camera, confident in herself and just plain cute. Near the end of the number, the screen goes dark and a spotlight illuminates, shining on Nicole Blonsky, continuing the song live and in person. This happened a few more times. Next up was James Marsden, playing a TV host of a dance show. He looks great, actually. Marsden would have been 20 times the star he is now if he was a ‘50s TV personality. Then Zac Efron (as Link Larkin) had a song, kind of Elvisy… sounded like it would be called LADY’S CHOICE, but I couldn’t find that song on the soundtrack list, so I probably have it wrong. It’s also rumored that Zac will be the star of the SPEED RACER film… he’s a good fit if that pans out. Then came Elijah Kelley with another song… a really catchy number that again I probably I have a wrong title for… The chorus seemed to be THE BLACKER THE BERRY THE SWEETER THE JUICE. The topper was Queen Latifah continuing my favorite clip from the flick. It had Tracy Turnblad and her group, including Link Larkin, Seaweed J. Stubbs (Elijah Kelley) and Penny Pingleton (Amanda Bynes) at a black record store, owned by Latifah’s Motormouth Maybelle. Bynes is very loopy in all the footage where her character pops up, but here she was really awed and afraid. Turnblad is laid back, happy to experience this new music, but Bynes is just wide-eyed. When she meets Latifah, she says she’s both pleased and terrified to be there. Latifah laughed it off. “You’re safer here than I would be on your street.” Travolta (Edna Turnblad), decked out in the fat suit, pops in and yells at her daughter for being there! How dare she! “Do you know how much I had to pay the taxi driver to come down here?” She tries to pull her daughter out of the store, but Latifah interjects. Wouldn’t you like to stay and try some of this food? She sweeps her arm in the direction of a table filled with great down home cookin’. Travolta’s eyes are wide, paused completely in his tracks, entranced by the new food. Travolta plays it over the top, but not nearly at BATTLEFIELD EARTH levels. It actually fits and he goes all out. He was absolutely great in the footage I saw. And for the love of god… he’s married to Christopher Walken in this movie! Walken is playing Tracy’s dad in the movie, a very nice guy character, owner of a joke shop. I didn’t see him sing and dance, but he did come out with the entire cast, including Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, all the kids and director Adam Shankman. I really can’t believe I liked this footage. I was actually kind of dreading coming out to this event, but it has become one of my favorites of ShoWest so far. I know you won’t believe me. I understand. I wouldn’t believe me, either, before seeing this footage. The movie could still not work, but the musical numbers are great and shot well. It’s got an overall quirky smiley feeling. There’s lots of energy in the footage. Also, before I go… in the number that opened it, GOOD MORNING, BALTIMORE, there was a great cameo… John Waters, the original ‘80s film director, pops up wearing a long trench coat during a bit in the song that mentions “that flasher.” He, of course, flashes a group walking behind Tracy as she continues her song and her day. On a side note, I stumbled my way into a big photo session afterwards… I wasn’t invited nor knew it was going on, but I ended up sitting back and watching the photographers scream out “CHRISTOPHER! CHRISTOPHER! IN FRONT OF YOU, CHRISTOPHER! MR. WALKEN!” etc for about 20 minutes before making my way to HOT FUZZ. It was very entertaining. And HOT FUZZ was even better on the 2nd viewing, much like SHAUN OF THE DEAD. I’ll write up a full review when I’m getting more than 5 hours of sleep a night. Tomorrow’s the final day. Doing my best to get into the Sony presentation. Fingers crossed. -Quint quint@aintitcool.com



Readers Talkback

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  • March 15, 2007, 4:53 a.m. CST

    If hot fuzz gets better with every viewing

    by The hoff

    then it'll probably take about 60 viewings for it to match the awesomeness that is Shaun of the Dead. Not that the fuzz is bad but SotD is so badass that there isn't even a scale for how tit-kickingly great it is.

  • March 15, 2007, 4:53 a.m. CST

    TOO SOON!!!

    by BannedOnTheRun

    Dude, I swear the John Waters movie came out not that long ago. Shit, that long ago? Really?

  • March 15, 2007, 5:08 a.m. CST

    I could see how this could MAYBE be fun

    by IndustryKiller!

    If there is a twisted Little SHop of Horrors atmosphere and they keep some of Water's subversive style. The cast isn't that bad, although Zac Efron seems to be the equivalent of this generations C. Thomas Howell mixed with David Cassidy. I've never seen or heard a single song from High School Musical but I can tell just from pictures it'll be impossible to make that kid look and act believably cool. it seems lately Travolta can do absolutely no right but maybe this'll remind me of his post Pulp Fiction period where he could do basically no wrong. And c'mon it's Walken married to a guy playing a fat woman.

  • March 15, 2007, 5:31 a.m. CST

    Run and tell that...

    by lazarusl

    I can see where Quint's coming from. My wife is a huge fan of the stage musical, and I bought her the soundtrack CD - and therefore subjected myself to hearing the songs over and over and over.. They're actually quite catchy, a lot of them aren't done in the over-the-top Broadway style.. and there's enough John Waters humor in the script that the cheesy plot doesn't make it entirely unwatchable. Oh, and the title of the song with the "blacker the berry..." chorus is "Run and Tell That!"

  • March 15, 2007, 5:38 a.m. CST

    Travolta comeback number 3? Or is it 4 now?

    by dr_buggerlugs

    I get the feeling Hairspray is gonna go down very well with a broad audience - probably those people afriad to see Dreamgirls - and Travolta in drag will be a pop culture phenomenon for a few minutes, people exclaiming another comeback, his hitherto untapped comic genius and Golden Globe nominations galore...

  • March 15, 2007, 6:19 a.m. CST

    Scared of Dreamgirls?

    by weebay

    Ok ummm.... why would people be scared to see Dreamgirls. It's a musical.

  • March 15, 2007, 7:15 a.m. CST

    Do the roach, bitches!

    by Zarles

    Somebody fetch me my diet pills.

  • March 15, 2007, 7:34 a.m. CST

    I hate Queen latifah

    by Lost Prophet

    She is dreadful. <p> I wish someone would remake Pink Flamingoes. Starring Michael Bay. That would be good- but they can't change the ending or substitute a prop.

  • March 15, 2007, 8:03 a.m. CST

    The song is called "Run and Tell That."

    by Lenny Nero

    And it's not hard to see why you liked the presentation, because it's quite a great musical, even by the standards of those who don't look forward to this kind of stuff. Marc Shaiman wrote the music, the script and lyrics are extremely funny and it's totally infectious. It's sort of an anti-musical.

  • March 15, 2007, 8:05 a.m. CST

    Ooop, another person beat me to the musical knowledge.

    by Lenny Nero

    And Zarles, they drop the "roach" storyline from the plot, sorry to tell ya.

  • March 15, 2007, 8:20 a.m. CST

    NO ROACHES!?

    by Zarles

    DO THE SCIENTOLOGISTS HAVE NO MERCY AT ALL?!

  • March 15, 2007, 8:27 a.m. CST

    That name is familiar

    by Franklin T Marmoset

    Is this director the guy who choreographed the Buffy musical Once More With Feeling? I'm sure I recognise the name, but I'm not sure from where.<p>I'm not usually a musical kind of guy, but I do like me some John Waters so I might check this out.

  • March 15, 2007, 8:42 a.m. CST

    Hairspray is far better musical than Grease...

    by 2for2true

    I've seen both on stage, and while Grease made a great movie the staged version is pretty bad....so bad that the recent UK version actually added some tunes from the movie that weren't in the orginal broadway show. While I don't know how the movie will turn out, the braodway show was far more entertaining than just about anything else I've seen there in the past ten years, with the exception of The Producers. I think the music was written by the same guys that did the songs for the South Park movie....

  • March 15, 2007, 9:09 a.m. CST

    Travolta is just divine.

    by Douche Baggins

    Is it a requirement that Edna Turnblad be played by gay men?

  • March 15, 2007, 9:15 a.m. CST

    Why not hire real, live fat people?

    by Doctor_Sin

    I forgot - Hollywood has had them exterminated.

  • March 15, 2007, 9:25 a.m. CST

    "written by the same guys that did "South Park""

    by number5withabullet

    uh, you mean Trey Parker and Matt Stone?

  • March 15, 2007, 9:26 a.m. CST

    They did.

    by Reelheed

    that is all.

  • March 15, 2007, 9:47 a.m. CST

    Travolta in fat suit as a woman=Battlefield Earth

    by uss cygnus

    It is complete sacrilege that Harvey Fierstein did not reprise his Broadway role as Edna. I hope Christopher Walken and Spike Jonze can sneak into the editing suite and cut in "Weapon Of Choice" into this somehow...Travolta is a joke, otherwise, this movie could become quite the beloved musical, even on the level of a "Grease", if they pull it off right. I hope they do.

  • March 15, 2007, 9:50 a.m. CST

    Grease is better!

    by Power_Girl

    Hairspray is good but the show kind of fizzels out after the first couple of songs. All the songs are good but only three or four are top notch songs. All Grease songs are great same with The Wedding Singer. You can not go wrong with The Wedding Singer musical it's top notch unlike the film it's based on.

  • March 15, 2007, 10:19 a.m. CST

    James Marsden! The one good thing in Superman Returns

    by CarmillaVonDoom

    True

  • March 15, 2007, 10:41 a.m. CST

    Let's see Travolta do THIS!

    by JustinSane

    "The filthiest people alive?" Well, you think you know someone filthier? Watch as Divine proves that not only is she the filthiest person in the world, she's also the filthiest actress in the world! What you are about to see is THE REAL THING!

  • March 15, 2007, 10:47 a.m. CST

    Marc Shaiman did the songs for "South Park: BLU."

    by Lenny Nero

    And the roach storyline was dropped because the new version focuses far more on the race relations of Baltimore and the Corny Collins Show. And as far as "Grease" onstage goes, they've been putting in songs from the movie for about 15 years now. It's really quite awkward, making an already disjointed show even more haphazard.

  • March 15, 2007, 11:11 a.m. CST

    It's a great stage musical.

    by Barry Egan

    The Marc Shaiman songs in it are so good it seems nearly unfuckupable. However, I am curious to see how the handle the drag role. The original was an indie John Waters film and the drag queen Divine played the mother role. I think the audience of a Waters picture sort of expected her. They retained the drag element for the stage show and it worked there too, but that is live theater which requires more suspension of disbelief. Plus, the history of theater is loaded with men playing women. Now for this movie (which is going to be hyped as a mainstream family movie and not as an indie John Waters film) they have retained the drag element. How do they handle it? To me that is the crux that will decide whether or not the new movie works. That said, I think Travolta is inspired casting.

  • March 15, 2007, 1:24 p.m. CST

    John Waters is one of the very few artists...

    by 3 Bag Enema

    ...who can do no wrong as far as I'm concerned. I'm glad to see he's decided to do more performing; I've always thought he should have put himself in more of his stuff, and have always been a big fan of his nightclub act (now available on DVD!). As for this musical... well, if it were Desperate Living: The Musical, I'd be more excited.

  • March 15, 2007, 4:36 p.m. CST

    Aren't they also doing a Broadway version of Cry Baby?

    by Barry Egan

    I thought i had read that....

  • March 15, 2007, 6:37 p.m. CST

    Crybaby

    by kitkats99

    They are doing a musical version of Crybaby. It was supposed to premiere last month at the 5th avenue theatre in Seattle, but has been postponed to premiere next season in California instead, and then will make its way to Broadway. On Hairspray..its one of the most fun Broadway shows I have ever seen, and I defy anybody to see it without having multiple songs stuck in their head for days afterwards. Its going to be a fantastic film.

  • March 15, 2007, 9:08 p.m. CST

    Can't wait...

    by Fleet

    The footage Ive seen of this film... not to mention actually seeing the stage-show itself on broadway, has me itching to this this film - It should be awesome... But, personally, Im hanging out for a movie version of Wicked - I just hope that (if it gets done) it doesn't get fucked up the ass like RENT was when it was torn to pieces and made into a movie... Dreamgirls has hopefully raised the bar in regards to musical-films... RENT is such an amazing musical on stage, but was totally fucked up when it was brought to the screen - But it seems like Dreamgirls escaped that... Hopefully, Hairspray will be successful... and it will pave the way for Wicked...

  • March 16, 2007, 12:10 a.m. CST

    Pink Flamingos musical!

    by Poacher

    C'mon, a singing asshole? What could be more entertaining?