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Hairspray

Hairspray
Directed by Adam Shankman
Written by Leslie Dixon, based on John Waters’s 1988 Screenplay
Music Created by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan
Released by New Line Cinema
Date of Release: 2007
Rated PG

Annotation:
Tracy Turnblad is one of the best dancers in Baltimore and sets out to prove her self worth in the 1960s.

Summary:
The year is 1962. The city is Baltimore. Tracy Turnblad only wants to dance on the Corny Collins Show. She has the moves and the drive to be the best dancer in Baltimore. She just needs a chance to prove it.

Unfortunately some of the other dancers don’t believe that she’s worth anything because Tracy might be a little overweight. Thanks to her friends Penny Pingleton and Seaweed J. Stubbs, Tracy becomes the star she’s always dreamed of. But like any great star, there’s someone trying to snuff Tracy’s light. With a little help from her friends, her parents, and her love for Link Larkin, Tracy is reminded that she will always have a rhythm to call her own.


Critical Evaluation:
Hairspray was originally a film directed by John Waters. The original was not a musical but still dealt with Tracy’s overweight figure and the racism that affected television programing in the 1960s. The film was later turned into a Tony Award winning musical in 2002. Using the music from the Broadway production, This 2007 version now stands as a combination of both the musical’s success with Waters original script.

The music is contagious. One can’t help but hum along to the lyrics, which at times makes fun of the racism of the 60s as well as point out the silliness of some of the character’s illogical behavior. The film still contains tongue and cheek silliness that Waters gave in the first film version.

The actors clearly love the material, which shows in their performance. Tracy Turnblad is played by Nikki Blonsky, which was her first film role. Blonsky genuinely loves the character and one can’t help but be rooting for Tracy and Nikki at the same time.

The film is a great musical and perfect for any teen looking to branch out of the Glee mentality.

Information about the Director:
From Adam Shankman’s IMDB page, Shankman was born and raised in Los Angeles. Shankman studied at Juliard and has worked as a choreographer for various projects since the early 1990s. Shankman has directed twenty films with the most recent film being Rock of Ages.

Adam Shankman on Twitter

From John Waters’s IMDB page, Waters directed the original Hairspray from which inspired a Broadway musical and the current remake. Born in Baltimore, Waters loved the fringe culture and began to make his own 8mm and 16mm films. His films continue to be cult classics amongst the indie film scene.

Genre:
Musical

Curriculum Ties:
Racism, American History

Booktalking Ideas:
What can you do to stand up for yourself?
What can you do to get out of a “comfort zone”?

Reading Level/Interest Age:
The film is rated PG which means that it would be better suited for teens 13 and up.

Challenging Issues:
Potential Issues include racism and teen sexuality.

Why did I include this film in the title selection?
Thanks to Glee and High School Musical, drama and theatre are huge amongst teens. Hairspray is a great addition to this genre.

References:
IMDB. (n.d.). Adam Shakman. Retrieved from http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0788202/

Young, S. (n.d.). John Waters Biography. IMDB. Retrieved from http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000691/

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