“Hairspray,” revew by Susan Granger

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On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Hairspray” is a bouncy, campy 9, a cotton-candy entertainment feast.

It’s been almost two decades since John Waters’ original oddball comedy about dance-crazed teenagers inspired Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman’s Broadway musical which has now been adapted for the screen in a star-studded spectacle.

Set in Baltimore in the early 1960s, it’s the story of how pudgy, shimmying Tracy Turnblad (18 year-old newcomer Nikki Blonsky), stuns her overly protective, laundress mom Edna (John Travolta), and joke-store proprietor dad, Wilbur (Christopher Walken), wins a spot on an afternoon TV dance party, steals the heart of Link Larkin (Zac Efron) and becomes an unlikely force for racial integration, much to the chagrin of scheming, bitter Velma Von Tussle (Michelle Pfeiffer), an ex-beauty queen who now runs “The Corny Collins Show,” a local version of “American Bandstand.”

Screenwriter Leslie Dixon (“Mrs. Doubtfire”) and choreographer-turned-director Adam Shankman (“Bringing Down the House”) gently bury much of John Waters’ subversive undertones to concentrate on being ‘different’ in this merrily trashy musical.

Stepping into the gender-blending role originated by Divine and then Harvey Fierstein on Broadway, John Travolta dons on his “Saturday Night Fever”/“Grease” dancing shoes – and dazzles. A nimble duet between Travolta and Walken, amid billowing clothes lines, evokes Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers, but the most memorable musical numbers are Queen Latifah’s “I Know Where I’ve Been” and Elijah Kelley’s “Run.”

Keep an eye out for cameos by alums of the original 1988 “Hairspray”: Ricki Lake, Jerry Stiller and auteur John Waters as the neighborhood flasher who lives next door to the Turnblads. Despite its PG rating, this is the first film to be cited for a teen smoking scene under the movie ratings board’s new anti-smoking policy.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.