Hairspray: Shake & Shimmy Edition (2007)

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Released 11-Jan-2008

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Musical Karaoke-Over an hour of all the songs from the film
Deleted Scenes-Includes deleted song : "I Can Wait"
Audio Commentary-Two - director/star and two producers
Deleted Scenes-five deleted/extended scenes
Featurette-HAIRSPRAY EXTENSIONS : rehearsals of numbers (35:36)
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Step by Step: Learn two of the dances (12:43)
Featurette-Making Of-The Roots of HAIRSPRAY - film to Broadway to film (37:55)
Featurette-Making Of-You Can't Stop the Beat - History of HAIRSPRAY (75:05)
Trailer-Theatrical Trailer 2.35:1/16x9
Alternative Version-Extensions of three songs
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 2007
Running Time 111:21
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (70:29)
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Adam Shankman
Studio
Distributor

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring John Travolta
Michelle Pfeiffer
Christopher Walken
Amanda Bynes
James Marsden
Queen Latifah
Brittany Snow
Zac Efron
Elijah Kelley
Allison Janney
Nikki Blonsky
Taylor Parks
Paul Dooley
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music Marc Shaiman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 EX (448Kb/s)
English dts 6.1 ES Discrete
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, Action and song "Good Morning Baltimore"

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

   

"Welcome to the 60s!"



    Hairspray is a knockout movie musical. Based on the 2002 Broadway musical by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, which in turn was based on John Waters' 1988 original non-musical movie, the show itself is not great, not in the same league as Chicago for instance. The music is light and repetitive and the characters are cardboard cut-outs. But that's been true of many musicals in the past . Where Hairspray absolutely succeeds is in its execution. In performance and technical skill every aspect of this film version is top class and the final result is almost two hours of sheer enjoyment and pleasure - with occasional moments that deserve a place in movie musical history.
    This is the story of  Tracy Turnblad (Nikki Blonsky) , an overweight Baltimore teenager living with her parents, Edna (John Travolta) and Wilbur (Christopher Walken). Tracy dreams of dancing on the local TV teen dance show, The Corny Collins (James Marsden) Show, and of true love with the school heart-throb Link Larkin (Zac Effron). In the movie's final production number she realises her dreams and along the way Tracy has taught everyone she touches about life in general, and racial integration in particular. This is good, clean stuff with a very strong moral core.
    The cast of Hairspray has just been nominated for a Screen Actors' Guild Award in the US - Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. The consistent excellence of every cast member must derive from director/choreographer Adam Shankman. Every actor is pitch perfect, a very difficult thing to achieve in the heightened style needed for a show like this to succeed. John Travolta deserves every award in the book. He is amazing. As the housebound overweight Edna he is touching, sweet and funny, never lowering himself to camp comedy. He IS this woman - not a man pretending to be her. Christopher Walken is perfect as Edna's husband. The pair's song and dance on the rooftop is a highlight of the film - it would be a highlight of any film. Sheer magic! (Christopher Walken - then "Ronald" - sang and danced off-Broadway in the cast of Best Foot Forward in 1963 with Liza Minnelli.) Michelle Pfeiffer is gorgeously evil as Velma von Tussle , producer of The Corny Collins Show, and as the show's host James Marsden is handsome - can he be anything else - and hilarious, as well as singing like a dream. (Can't wait to see/hear him sing again in Enchanted.) Queen Latifah as Motormouth Maybelle, hostess of "Negro Day" on The Corny Collins Show, is her usual excellent self. She never does anything that is not totally professional.
    In other minor roles there are continual pleasant surprises. As Penny Pingleton, Tracy's best friend, Amanda Bynes is extremely funny and  pretty and is partnered with talented dancer Elijah Kelley. Their interracial partnering horrifies Penny's Mom, Prudy, and in this role Allison Janney  make the most of her minutes on screen, reminding me of the great Eve Arden. Current teen heart-throb Zac Effron is a standout as Link. The young man can sing, dance and act. (The news that he is starring in the remake of Footloose is interesting. Here's hoping it's the Broadway musical version.) Brittany Snow also impresses as Amber von Tussle, the dancing queen who ultimately loses her throne.
    Then there's Nikki Blonsky. This teenager auditioned for her dream role while working in a Long Island ice cream parlour. I don't know what else there can be in this girl's future, but she is perfect for Tracy Turnblad. This is a mostly one-key role, but the actress's enthusiasm and joy at what she is doing in making this film is totally infectious. The opening song, Good Morning Baltimore, says it all. She mimes her own vocal track to absolute perfection, dancing through the streets and riding on top of a truck. You feel that you're watching an actual live performance - and this girl had no previous on camera experience.
    It should be noted that ALL the singing in this film is performed by the actors themselves. There is not one "ghost" note on the entire soundtrack.
    The movie looks great,  bright and colourful. Excellent use is made of widescreen in the production numbers, whether in the TV studio or actually in the streets of Toronto, with the dancers filling the screen from edge to edge. There were times when these dancers actually caught the fantastic excitement of being front centre in a Broadway theatre. Costumes are terrific, never sending up the era - unlike the Broadway designs, which were "over the top". From James Marsden's suits and pointed shoes to Amanda Bynes pert teen look, every costume is spot on.
    I could go on and on raving about Hairspray. Please don't compare it to the great Hollywood musicals of the past. It's undeniable that over the past seventy years there have been a couple of dozen incomparable classics. Today we have Hairspray! See it. Take your kids! Take your grandkids! This is entertainment with a great, big capital "E"!

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This is a beautiful transfer to disc, with excellent video quality.

    The image is very slightly softened I would say to create an idealised Max Factor sheen to Tracy Turnblad's life. The softening becomes apparent when you compare close-ups from the movie with  those in the documentary interviews - too sharp for the idealised world of the movie. In the trailer it is interesting to note a more natural look in the opening moments of the film. I wonder if originally there was to be a colour "change" cued by the  first spray from the can which leads into the movie's title.

    The feature is presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio 16x9 enhanced.The widescreen picture is beautifully composed, whether in the cramped confines of the Turnblad apartment and Wilbur's magnificently cluttered store or capturing the exuberant dances actually filmed in the Toronto streets.

    The picture is beautifully clear and clean, with no evidence of low level noise or grain of any description. The shadow detail was excellent, particularly in the night street scenes.

    The colour was fantastic with incredible richness and depth. There were no colour blemishes of any kind. The costumes are a continual delight through the film - from the blocks of pastel to the intricate  prints. The detail of the image is fantastic - just look around Wilbur's shop.

    I was not aware of any artefacts whatsoever.

    The layer change occurs at 70:29, perfectly placed in the blackout after You're Timeless to Me, and is invisible.
    

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio quality is magnificent and of reference quality.

    Disc 1 , which contains the movie, has five audio options:
        English 5.1 Dolby Digital EX encoded at 448 Kb/s
        English 6.1 DTS-ES
        English 2.0 Dolby Surround encoded at 192 Kb/s
        English 2.0 Dolby Surround encoded at 192 Kb/s with commentary by Director Adam Shankman and star Nikki Blonsky 
        English 2.0 Dolby Surround encoded at 192 Kb/s with commentary by Producers Craig Zadon and Neil Meron  

    With my equipment I chose the 5.1 Dolby Digital EX.

    Dialogue was very clear and easy to understand and there was no problem with audio sync. I did find some of the lyrics difficult to understand on first hearing, particularly in Elijah Kelley's Run and Tell That. Subsequent listening removed that problem.

    The score of this film by Marc Shaiman is magnificently played by an enormous orchestra - plus huge chorus, plus gospel choir! The songs are relentlessly bright and bouncy, but that's the nature of Hairspray. This is an excellent, exciting recording beautifully reproduced on this DVD.
    Full use is made of the surrounds throughout the film and its music, and the subwoofer contributes wonderfully to the punch of the music.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

All extras on both discs are presented 16x9 enhanced.
If the extra includes actual footage from the film, that footage is presented 2.35:1 and looks identical to the actual film.
Disc 1 extras have the full audio options as for the movie itself.
Disc 2 extras only have English 2.0 Dolby Surround.
All extras have English Captions for the Hearing Impaired.

Disc 1:

Menu : The Menu design is simple to operate using live action plus animation with orchestral versions of songs behind.

Set-Up Options:  Audio : English 5.1 Dolby Digital EX
                                        English 6.1 DTS-ES
                                        English 2.0 Dolby Surround
                           Subtitles : English Captions (Descriptive Titles for the Hearing Impaired) 

Select A Scene: 20 scenes on 5 screens, each scene with its own "live" thumbnail

Dolby Digital Train : 00:31
    Still my favourite Dolby Digital experience.

Step by Step : The Dances of Hairspray : (12:43)
    This is exceptional. Two of the assistant choreographers for the movie teach two of the dances from the movie - or part thereof. Each choreographer is assisted by a couple from the movie's dancing ensemble , and we also have the option of watching the finished dance from the movie itself. The two dances are Ladies Choice and Peyton Place After Midnight. The choreographers make everything very clear, and take things very slowly before revving up to tempo. A great aerobic workout - when there's no-one watching.

Jump To A Song : ( 66:56 )
     All - and I mean ALL -  of the musical numbers from the film are presented sing-along Karaoke fashion with lyrics highlighted. Picture quality is as for the movie itself, as is the audio. Great !
     Options are to select an individual number or "play all".

Feature Commentary : Two separate commentaries are available, presented Dolby Digital 2.0. These commentaries are :
                                       a) Director Adam Shankman and his young star Nikki Blonsky - very chatty and light. The pair talk non-stop for almost two hours.
                                       b) Producers Craig Zadon and Neil Meron - give more insight into the creative aspects, also for the full length of the film. More here about differences
                                            between the film and Broadway versions.

Soundtrack Information : This is just a list of what is on the commercially available CD soundtrack.

Disc 2:

Menu

    The menu design is very good, simple to operate, and uses the movie's score throughout. It has basic animation plus insert live action from the film in "floating" screens.

The Roots of Hairspray: (37:55)
    This is an excellent documentary tracing the origins of Hairspray from John Waters as a teenager watching The Buddy Deane Show in Baltimore, through the original Hairspray movie to Hairspray's birth as a musical on Broadway. Along the way there are top interviews with John Waters himself, Ricki Lake , "Tracey" in the first movie and others. Top stuff.
         The Buddy Deane Show : (07:53)     
         John Waters' Hairspray : (15:01) : Especially touching tributes to Divine, the original "Edna".
         Hairspray on Broadway : (15:01) : Harvey Feinstein becomes "Edna."

You Can't Stop The Beat : (75:05)

    This documentary concentrates on the movie musical's journey to the screen. It is extremely comprehensive - not just an "aren't we great" ego trip. Without being boring or too "in" we are given real insight into the inspiration, time, effort, dedication and sheer labour that goes into a successful musical, whether on stage or film. Most facets of the production are covered and even the most casual viewer would have to be mightily impressed.
    The segments are:
        Hairspray Returns to the Screen : (08:45) Producers Craig Zadon and Neil Meron tell about the problems of convincing studios that musicals aren't necessarily box office poison. They prove their point by producing full scale musicals for TV (Gypsy, Cinderella and Annie) which are ratings giants, and then get the green light for Chicago.
        The Cast of Hairspray : (16:42)
        The Music of Hairspray : (14:32)
        The Choreography of Hairspray : (11:39)
        The Costumes of Hairspray : (05:46)
        The Hairdos of Hairspray : (06:05)
        The Production Design of Hairspray : (04:19)
        Reflections on Hairspray : (05:39)

Hairspray Extensions: (35:36)
      I expected this to be a collection of extended scenes, with one or two seconds added if you're lucky. Not the case ! Instead we have six of the BIG numbers from the show presented multi-screen, enabling us to watch three "versions" at once :
                                                                                            the number as seen in the movie;
                                                                                            the number in rehearsal; and
                                                                                            a behind the camera view of the number actually being filmed.
    The numbers given extensions are :
        The Nicest Kids In Town (04:02)  
        The Legend of Miss Baltimore Crabs (05:04)
         Ladies' Choice (05:05)
        Welcome to the 60s (06:06)
        Run and Tell That (05:33)
        You Can't Stop The Beat (09:27)

The editing, picture and sound quality are FANTASTIC and it is all in sync !!! This is movie musical fan heaven.

Deleted/Alternate Scenes : (09:11)
      These are presented with an optional commentary track by Director Adam Shankman and star Nikki Blonsky. Pretty predictable stuff, but interesting are the comments and star's reaction to the cut ballad, I Can Wait. The scenes are:
        Edna Gets Arrested (00:57)
       Welcome to the 60s - alternate street segment (00:50)
       Deleted Song : I Can Wait (04:03)
       You Can't Stop the Beat - Alternate Version (02:12)
       Big, Blonde and Beautiful (Reprise) Velma version (01:09)

Theatrical Trailer : (02:14)  
   
Good theatrical trailer, with that different "look" to the opening shots of Nikki Blonsky getting ready to greet Baltimore.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 4 version of this disc misses out on;

    The Region 1 version of this disc misses out on;

    The colour was slightly richer on the Region 4 version, so I say Region 4 wins.

Summary

    This was the most joyful two hours I spent in 2007 watching a movie. A good, fun musical - with a surprising moral core - that has been produced to a standard that could not be bettered.
    The picture and sound quality are brilliant.
    The extras are excellent.
    Who could ask for anything more?

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Garry Armstrong (BioGarry)
Monday, January 07, 2008
Review Equipment
DVDOnkyo-SP500, using Component output
DisplayPhilips Plasma 42FD9954/69c. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080i.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationOnkyo TX-DS777
SpeakersVAF DC-X fronts; VAF DC-6 center; VAF DC-2 rears; LFE-07subwoofer (80W X 2)

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Worst film of the year -
Re: Worst film of the year - Dave - Bill T