Director: Adam Shankman
Production Company: New Line Cinema
Plot Summary: Hairpsray tells the story of Tracey Turnblad, a rather short and stout teenaged girl living in 1960s Baltimore. Her life is filled with song and dance and she loves to watch the Corny Collins Show and her favorite member Link. When a spot in the show opens up, Tracey auditions without a moment's hesitation, despite being put down by the show's station manager Velma and her daughter Amber. After being sent to detention, Tracey discovers a new type of dancing from the school's black students as well as a glance into a world that she had never known and the unfairness of segregation that exists even on her beloved Corny Collins Show. Tracey struggles with her love of dancing and being able to dance with her new friends.
Critical Evaluation: The themes of this remade version of Hairspray are the same as the previous version: of self-acceptance, standing up for what you believe in, and never giving up. Tracey Turnblad is a typical underdog but her persistence and her generally happy demeanor is endearing to the audience and that she never seems to become disgruntled or hopeless could give viewers hope despite their own troubles. The very catchy songs and the amazing singing and dancing all lend the movie a feeling of hope, exuberance, and the ability to reach your dreams. The characters in the movie were not fleshed out in the manner that a reader of a book would expect, but throughout the course of the movie, viewers get to understand characters through their behavior, dialog, and lyrics.
Reader's Annotation: Tracey Turnblad may not be the typical slender and blonde teen that comes to mind when viewers think of Miss Hairspray, but her love of dancing and music will take Tracey further than even she thought possible.
Information About the Director: Adam Shankman is an American film director, producer and choreographer. Shankman has been nominated for two Primetime Emmys and is famous for his directing abilities as well as his choreography.
Having started as a dancer, Shankman then broke into the choreographing business and from there, he moved on to directing and producing. Follow Shankman at his Twitter page.
Genre: Musical; Historical; Race Politics
Curriculum Ties: African American History Month
- How is Tracey Turnblad an underdog in this story? How is she easy for viewers of all ages to relate to? This can be in terms of her age, physical appearance, or demeanor.
- Would the themes of Hairspray work as well without the upbeat atmosphere caused from the music, singing, and dancing of a musical? Could it have worked without the song-and dance or do you think it is an intrinsic part of the movie, as shown by its roots as well as the plot of the movie itself?
Viewing Level: 15+
Challenge Issues N/A
Why This Movie?: Nominated for 3 Golden Globe Awards
Shankman, A (Director). (2007). Hairspray [Motion picture]. USA: New Line Cinema.