First off, let me preface this post by saying that I’m not a big fan of musicals. I’m usually fine for a little while, but after about 30 min the constant singing, dancing, and complete lack of plot movement really starts to irritate me. So, I’m going to do my best to objectively review this movie, but probably end up failing miserably.

I definitely have to give props to whoever wrote the opening song. Being able to write a “cheery” song about Baltimore takes a lot of imagination or serious hallucinogens. And definite bonus points for having her ride in on the top of a garbage truck. However, she is WAY too chipper. There is absolutely no cause for that amount of pep.

This movie is in contention for Best Picture and Best Supporting Actor (John Travolta). There is no way that it should show up in either of these categories come Awards day. First, just because a movie is a musical, doesn’t automatically mean it should be in contention for Best Picture. This movie, while decent, isn’t even in the same league as some of the others (Juno, Atonement, and No Country just to name a few I’ve seen). As for Best Supporting Actor for John Travolta, don’t even get me started. I actually thought his was the weakest performance of anyone. Just because you cross dress, doesn’t mean you should be in contention for Best Supporting Actor. In fact, if anyone in this movie deserves an Oscar nod for Supporting Actor, it should be Elijah Kelley. He was easily the best actor in every scene he was in. Hell, Amanda Bynes did a better job than John Travolta – also, it should be noted that I was surprisingly impressed by her performance. The only Oscars that this movie should even be considered for are Costume and Song.

As far as the plot is concerned, I was asked to summarize the movie to someone the other day. It wasn’t all that hard: “High school girl likes to dance.” I guess I could make it more descriptive: “High school girl likes to dance, gets on tv program, breaks down racial barriers.” The plot was very lacking. I understand when a movie is in a certain genre that other elements of the movie suffer (not a lot of in-depth character study and plot intricacies in comedies), but a least a little bit of an effort would be nice. I think Hairspray relied too much on its songs. However, in a musical, can you really blame them? Also, I’m not sure if I can fairly criticize a Broadway adaptation for its screenplay, but I will anyways.

In trying to be objective, this was a decent movie. It wasn’t bad, it wasn’t great. As far as musicals go, it was probably better than average. It’s hard to do an accurate comparison, though. Too few movies are musicals these days. There was Chicago and Rent a few years ago, and Sweeney Todd this year, but not many other than that. You could go back and compare it to the classic musicals (My Fair Lady, Oklahoma, South Pacific, and the ever popular West-Side Story), but can you really do that?