No other teen film heroine has enjoyed herself as much as Tracy Turnblad (Nikki Blonsky) in Hair- spray. She's always singing about her elation and her delight in feeling that elation. She belts out all her love: for her hometown in "Good Morning, Baltimore," for Zac Efron's sympathetic, ready-for-action Link Larkin in "I Can Hear the Bells" and for an optimistic and open-for-anything age of music and dancing in "You Can't Stop the Beat."
Tracy may live in an East Baltimore rowhouse, but her songs expose a gaudy-yet-wholesome, split-level pop psyche that helps the filmmakers maintain the verve of John Waters' 1988 comedy and provides this adaptation of the 2002 Broadway musical version with an effervescence all its own. In the scintillating Marc Shaiman-Scott Wittman score, Tracy is as self-aware as she is gung-ho about romance, idealism and rock 'n' roll. It's no surprise that she helps integrate The Corny Collins Show, Baltimore's homegrown American Bandstand (based on the real The Buddy Deane Show), two years before the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Hairspray (New Line Cinema) Starring John Travolta, Nikki Blonsky, Christopher Walken, Zac Efron, Michelle Pfeiffer, Amanda Bynes, James Marsden. Directed by Adam Shankman. Rated PG. Time 107 minutes.