Ever want to see Christopher Walken and John Travolta (acting in drag) play a married couple? You finally get your chance with Adam Shankman’s version of Hairspray, an adaptation of the Tony-winning Broadway musical — itself a reworking of John Waters’s 1988 film. Set during the doo-wop 60s, the tale follows overweight teenager Tracy Turnblad (Nikki Blonsky) and her quest to sing and dance with all the hip kids on The Corny Collins Show. Shunned by the superficial and racist TV producer Velma Von Tussle (Michelle Pfeiffer), Tracy finds acceptance from the black community — since they can appreciate it if baby got back — where she quickly learns how to jive and propels herself into the world of local daytime TV celebrity.
By using frantic editing, roving cameras and an onslaught of cheery music, the film does everything it can to emulate the energy of a live performance. You’d be hard-pressed to isolate a nanosecond of silence in this go-for-broke extravaganza. Admirably, the film uses its musical platform to preach morals of equality from pro-integration to pro-body image… at full volume. It’s difficult to harbor much ill will for this good-natured and fast-paced spectacle. The weakest element is Travolta, who — playing the role of Tracy's mother — steps into the formidable high heels of real life cross-dresser Divine with adequacy, but little of the zest you come to expect from Danny Zuko. Maybe he spent too much time working on his funky accent, or maybe he’s simply having too much fun to really put his back into it.