Walking home from the uptown Apple Store this evening on W. 54th St., I found myself in front of the Zeigfeld at about 8:25 p.m. Noticing the bright "Hairspray" marquee (and thinking about all the good buzz I'd been hearing about the movie), I told myself that if the film was starting in the next 2 minutes, I'd walk in to watch it. Whatdya know there was an 8:30 showing... close enough. I bought a ticket for what was billed as a "sing-a-long" showing (the print included subtitles over all the musical numbers).
So, "Hairspray" exceeded my expectations. Its an infectiously fun Summer movie. How can anyone walk out of the film without a smile on. The first hour whizzes by, moving swiftly from song to song. Overall, it drags in parts, especially in the second half, but all the leads (Blonsky, Travolta, Pfeiffer, Lateefah, Efron, Kelley, Marsden and Walken), really shine. By the time Edna Turnblad had her climactic number, I was laughing out loud uncontrollably and three of the 35 or so people sitting in the empty rows in front of me were on dancing in the seats.
In his NY Times review, A.O. Scott summed up the film quite well: "There are, to be sure, less thrilling moments and stretches in which the pacing falters. But the overall mood of “Hairspray” is so joyful, so full of unforced enthusiasm, that only the most ferocious cynic could resist it. It imagines a world where no one is an outsider and no one is a square, and invites everyone in. How can you refuse?"
Next up this week, I hope: "Ratatouille"...