Monday, July 30, 2007

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 (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?



Blogger Travis Erwin said...

A favorite B movie?

I'm not sure it's considered a B movie or not but The three Amigos, with Chevy Chase, Martin Short and Steve Martin cracks me up every time.

It is as absurd as they come and at least once a Christmas I open a present and proclaim, "It's a sweater," in my best spanish accent in the same manner that the evil mexican bandit did.

Sadly, my wife no longer allows me to watch this movie when she is home.

11:37 AM  
Blogger desperate_writer said...

Favorite B movie...well, it would be hard to name just one. You know how I am about movies! Any movie I love (and that covers a LOT of ground) is an "A" movie in my book. But I know what you mean....

I love Parenthood w/Steve Martin, The Man With Two Brains w/ Steve Martin...Actually anything Steve Martin.

I also love anything with John Wayne...a lot of his movies that used to be considered "B Movies" are now reclassified as classics...

And also there's Conan the Barbarian, Hot Dog (that one starred the Dr. Pepper guy and Shannon Tweed, who is now with her man on Gene Simmons Family Jewels, which I LOVE.) The Big Tease, Blow Dry (very, very good), Police Academy (until about the 3rd or 4th one)...
Some classic classics are Father Goose, Operation Petticoat, and ...and....
So many, so many....

3:21 PM  
Blogger Kern said...

Obviously, The greatest B Musical of all time is The Blues Brothers. It can never be surpassed. I quote it very frequently.

"Four fried chickens and a side of toast."

"Uhhh.. we thought the drinks were... complimentary."

"A special welcome goes out tonight to members of local law enforcemant."

Of course, another favorite of mine is "Oklahoma!" I know every word to every number. Many of you are probably familiar with my performance in the 1988 Texas Tech University production, but we'll save that topic for another time.

12:42 PM  
Blogger Britta Coleman said...

I missed the sweater line. This demands a reshowing. Oh, but Steve Martin in Dirty Rotten Scoundrels has to take the cake.

"Oh, reaaaallly?"

DW, I'm totally laughing over Conan. I thought that I was the only person who tuned in to late night cable. Who can resist Ahnold pushing a giant workmill and James Earl Jones morphing into a snake?

Yes, Kern, Blues Brothers is a classic. I only wish others could watch you imitate Elwood.

12:30 PM  
Blogger *Tyler* said...

I must say that SO I married an Axe Murderer... is an all time favorite around our house. If you haven't seen it, check out Mike Myers play a couple of different characters in the film.

A few of our favorite quotes in our WORST Irish accents are:


"His head's so big it's got its own weather system."

"He's going to cry himself to sleep on his big pillow."

In fact, I think I'll go pop it in the dvd player right now.

See you in a few days~

2:25 PM  
Blogger dee said...

i have to say it must be When Harry Met Sally. My favorite line is of course in the diner after her 'does this sound familiar' performance when the old lady says:

"I'll have what she's having." and of course I order everything "On the side."

2:21 PM  
Blogger Britta Coleman said...

Oh, When Harry Met Sally is one of my all time favorites. Soooo quotable.

7:38 AM  

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