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

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

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