117 min. minutes | Rated PG
John Waters’s Hairspray was a revelation. Now the movie and the 2003 musical adaptation are followed by the movie musical, completing an adaptive hat trick so unexpected it must make its peerlessly pervy creator wake up smiling. Tragically, two major misfortunes hobble the readaptation. One is John Travolta, hideously miscast as Tracy’s mother, Edna. This is drag as your dad would do it, if your dad were developmentally disabled, wedged in a state-of-the-art fat suit, and drunk on Robitussin. Between the mincing and constantly mutating accent, I found Travolta unwatchable. (And I’ve seen Battlefield Earth all the way through.) Equally problematic is the new film’s klutziness with the old film’s elegantly handled themes of racial prejudice and the fight for integration. The original Hairspray found Tracy sating her teenage need for rebellion by challenging racial barriers; the new Hairspray suggests that a fat white girl from Baltimore single-handedly dreamed up the civil rights movement.
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