I’m back in Charm City (which I don’t think anyone actually calls the place) for a solar conference. Catherine lived here for a couple of years, volunteering at the Learning Bank (possibly defunct) and at Mercy Corps. I used to visit here a lot, but it’s changed. The walk from Inner Harbor to Fells Point is unrecognizably gentrified. At least The Sound Garden and Brick Oven Pizza are still there.
We just saw Hairspray. As the movie of the musical of the movie, it acquits itself quite well, but the edge of the original is lost under the sugar coating. I was about to add that we didn’t need a remake so soon after the original, but Waters’s version is 19 years old, which is an age in movie time.
The good bits? Nikki Blonsky is a wee honey, with huge cartoony eyes and a winning smile. James Marsden adds a little extra sleaze to the role of Corny Collins. The musical numbers are infectious; but then, they should be, coming straight off the stage.
The mediocre? Travolta’s face padding made his eyes look way too close together, and he’s no Harris Glenn Milstead. The cameos from the original are a little too cameo (didja catch Ms Lake as one of the talent scouts?), and the racist baddies are too bland to be disagreeable.
I recognized many of the Toronto locations: the high school’s on Spadina just north of College, most of Tracy’s neighbourhood was around Roncesvalles, the TV studio looked to be on Dupont, and yes, those streetcars were old Red Rockets (one even with an Eastern Avenue destination).Â If you didn’t know Baltimore, you might think it passed, but it’s nothing like the real thing.
It’s a pretty good summer movie, charming and fluffy, but the original is still better.