Movie Musicals: Confections and Confessions
I love the movies in summertime...especially when they're as much fun as "Hairspray," the oversized confection of fun starring Nikki Blonsky, John Travolta, Christopher Walken, Queen Latifah and Michelle Pfeiffer. After the opening montage where effervescent Tracy Turnblad belts out her love for life, dancing, and Baltimore, I was transfixed. John Travolta makes for an endearing mama Turnblad, and Christopher Walken's shirts were a study in early 60s kitsch. Bravo, costume designer. But seriously, Christopher Walken could walk across the room eating a grilled cheese sandwich and I'd find him subversively hysterical. Michelle Pfeiffer rules her scenes with icy femininity, and Queen Latifah adds regal, maternal grace to the proceedings. An absolute ball.
Michelle Pfeiffer's singing reminded me of another, less star-studded film: Grease 2. I'll confess, it's a total guilty pleasure and I've seen it more times than I care to recollect. The young Michelle grabs hold of the shlocktastic material and gives it her Cool-Rider loving, Pink Ladies jacket wearing, gum smacking all. She sings a few numbers with agility, a skill she highlights in the better received Fabulous Baker Boys. I always wondered what happened to Grease 2's young Maxwell Caulfield, who played the nerd-goes-biker with embarrassing sincerity. After a quick search on http://www.imdb.com/ (one of my favorite sites for all things film), it looks like he's taken a quieter path than his leading lady. Which leads me to another early Pfeiffer film...Ladyhawke (1985). A young Matthew Broderick delivers quote-worthy bon mots and a still-happenin' Rutger Hauer fights his way through the implausible plot toward lady love, Pfeiffer in a brunette pixie (!) that frames her otherworldly looks. The star-crossed fantasy is a diverting way to pass an afternoon, if you can get past the jarring, ill-suited music. (Think bad eighties rock. Real bad. Real eighties. Light on the rock.)
Confession time: Have a favorite B movie? A soft spot for schlock? A fan of the campy musical?