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Old 07-19-2007, 04:04 PM   #136
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Waitress
Directed by Adrienne Shelly
Written by Adrienne Shelly
Starring Nathan Fillion, Andy Griffith, Cheryl Hines, Eddie Jemison, Keri Russell, Adrenne Shelly, Jeremy Sisto and Lew Temple


40-year old actress, director and screenwriter Adrienne Shelly was found dead in an apartment in the West Village section of Manhattan's Greenwich Village in November of last year. What at first appeared to be a suicide, turned out to be a murder by a 19-year old illegal immigrant construction worker and neighbor of Shelly's, who ended up making videotapes implicating himself in the murder. A life cut short, Shelly leaves us with her final work -- the 2007 comedy Waitress, for which she starred, wrote and directed.

Jenna (Keri Russell) is poor Southern waitress with a gift for making delicious pies, but is presently trapped in an unhappy marriage with her abusive and controlling husband Earl (Jeremy Sisto). Jenna lacks a social life, confiding only in her co-workers Becky (Cheryl Hines) and Dawn (Shelly), as well as the owner of the dinner in which she works, Joe (Andy Griffith). But Jenna begins to take on a new perspective for life, once she discovers that she is unexpectedly pregnant with Earl's kid.

Jenna visits her town's new gynecologist Dr. Jim Pomatter (Nathan Fillion), but she becomes much more than a regular patient, sparking a passionate, yet meaningful affair with the small-town doctor. But while Jenna decides to carry out the pregnancy of her and Earl's child, her biggest challenge is deciding whether she should flee the town with her married gynecologist or remain ensnared in her problematic marriage.

A humorous and endearing independent film, Waitress is a wonderful movie built around quirky and distinct scenarios and characters, but still told in an honest and relatable way. While the picture does contain some typical romantic comedy-like tendencies, the flick manages to add several layers of depth and drama to it that are balanced extraordinarily well in order to make this a heartwarming and heartbreaking film.

Shelly's (I'll Take You There, Sudden Manhattan) screenplay is good-natured and clever, making sure the audience leaves with a genuine smile on their faces. Shelly's script also does a tremendous job in developing strong leading characters, as well as offering up several memorable moments from the movie's off-beat and wacky supporting players. It's a joy to watch so many distinguishable characters with well-defined stories, personalities and qualities on-screen, all of which are acted out exceptionally well.

Russell (Mission: Impossible III, The Upside of Anger) gives the best performance of her career, remarkably enveloping herself into the role of the small-town waitress with hopes and dreams, but a lack of confidence to escape the confines of her miserable life. Fillion (Slither, TV's Drive) and Griffith (TV's Matlock, TV's The Andy Griffith Show) both create an enthralling on-screen chemistry with Russell, while Hines (Keeping Up With the Steins, R.V.) and Shelly do a decent job in their roles, but their subplots end up taking us away from the movie's strongest character and story.

A complete and blissful low-budget movie, Waitress strikes a real comedic and emotional chord, becoming one of 2007's best films.


***.5/****


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Old 07-19-2007, 07:41 PM   #137
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Originally Posted by tobynosker View Post
Thanks, Dano.

I really enjoyed Shooter. It felt like a two-hour episode of 24, but I thought the cast was top-notch and made it far more enjoyable than it should have been.

I can do nothing but sing the praises of Michael Pena, who turned out to be one of the best things in both Crash and World Trade Center. He doesn't disappoint in Shooter, and he is one of the reasons I am anticipating Robert Redford's Lions for Lambs.

The real star of the movie was Mark Wahlberg, who I think could do really well in Matt Damon-Jason Bourne-type movies. I don't know if Shooter deserves a sequel, though.

As for The Astronaut Farmer, it was far better than I expected and it was a well-shot and well-acted family movie. It wasn't Billy Bob Thornton's best movie, but I did enjoy it more than his recent films like School for Scoundrels, Bad News Bears and The Alamo.

And because I love lists...

Top Five Billy Bob Thornton Performances
1.) Karl Childers in Sling Blade
2.) Willie in Bad Santa
3.) Ed in The Man Who Wasn't There
4.) Hank Grotowski in Monster's Ball
5.) Coach Gary Gaines in Friday Night Lights
I know this will say a lot about me. So you shrinks break out your note pads. Sling Blade is my favorite movie of all times. There are so many scenes in that puppy, that I would love to pick Billy Bob's brain, on what did he mean by this, or what was that suppose to mean. Sling Blade is a true master piece in my opinion. It's not about the violence. It's about so much more with each cast member. Natalie Canerday who played Linda Wheatley in the film, is from my home town here in Arkansas where Billy Bob as well is from. I heard him say in a interview, that she is the best actress in Hollywood for that kind of roles. Im not a Dwight Yoakam fan, but man did he ever pull that role off as the lovable Doyle Hardgraves. And God is my witness, that was John Ritters best job on the big screen that he had ever done. For a low budget film, from the mind of a poor old Arkansas boy. I think it was a great film that will live long for the ages.
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Old 07-20-2007, 03:36 PM   #138
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I love Sling Blade too, yet I don't know if it would rank as a personal favorite of mine. But I am a huge fan of movies where the acting takes center stage, and Billy Bob Thornton's performance is remarkable. I wish the movie would have done a better job fleshing out some of the other characters, but Karl Childers and his journey are fascinating to watch.
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Old 07-20-2007, 03:55 PM   #139
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Since we are halfway through the year (I have seen 73 movies, so far), here is my current report card for the year:



Top Ten Films of 2007
1.) Waitress
2.) The Namesake
3.) 300
4.) Ratatouille
5.) The Italian
6.) Grindhouse
7.) Bridge to Terabithia
8.) Zodiac
9.) Bug
10.) Fracture



Best Director: Brad Bird for Ratatouille

Best Actor: Chris Cooper in Breach

Best Actress: Keri Russell in Waitress

Best Supporting Actor: Don Cheadle in Reign Over Me

Best Supporting Actress: Tabu in The Namesake



Best Ensemble: Zodiac

Best Original Screenplay: Adrienne Shelly for Waitress

Best Adapted Screenplay: Sooni Taraporevala for The Namesake

Best Foreign-Language Film: The Italian

Best Animated Film: Ratatouille

Best Documentary: n/a
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Old 07-21-2007, 10:31 AM   #140
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License to Wed
Directed by Ken Kwapis
Written by Kim Barker and Tim Rasmussen
Starring DeRay Davis, Josh Flitter, Roxanne Hart, John Krasinski, Mandy Moore, Eric Christian Olsen, Peter Strauss, Christine Taylor and Robin Williams


Arguably one of the greatest stand-up comedians of all-time, Robin Williams successfully transitioned from the stage into a favorable and critically-acclaimed film career, with a resume that includes the comedic hits Good Morning, Vietnam, Hook and Mrs. Doubtfire. But in recent years, Williams's presence and roles in comedies has started to feel slightly outdated, including in his two busts in 2006, Man of the Year and R.V. That downward spiral continues in 2007, with the release of one of the more dreadful Robin Williams-led vehicles ever, License to Wed.

Ben Murphy (John Krasinski) and Sadie Jones (Mandy Moore) are a young couple in the midst of planning their wedding, which Sadie wants to take place at St. Augustine's church where she and her family regularly attended when she was a child. But upon visiting the church, the two discover that the only open date on the church's calendar for the next couple of years is actually in a couple of weeks, and that in order to be married at St. Augustine's, they first must complete Reverend Frank's (Williams) three-week marriage course.

Throughout the course, Ben and Sadie participate in several unusual classes and are asked to complete a series of odd homework assignments. And while the course is designed to offer the couple a look into the challenges of marriage, as well ensure that their union has a sound foundation, the irritating minister and his eccentric ways may actually end up damaging Ben and Sadie's relationship, as opposed to bringing them closer together.

A predictable, formulaic and oftentimes boring flick, License to Wed's biggest flaw is its script, written by newcomers Kim Barker and Tim Rasmussen. They make the initial mistake of blowing through the beginnings of Ben and Sadie's relationship in mere moments, giving the audience very little backstory or a reason to care about the movie's characters. It feels like Peyton Reed's The Break-Up, only this time instead of viewing a couple in love and the demise of their already dismantled relationship, we spot a couple we know nothing about and who appear to have no desire for each other trying to make a relationship that seems to be dead-on-arrival work.

The rest of the movie seems like an endless series of skits, where outlandish scenarios are clearly going to end in disastrous results for the sweet, innocent and unsuspecting protagonist. This set-up encapsulates the majority of the picture, and will quickly wear on an audience member's patience once you realize where the story is headed, and quietly begin wondering when it's going to hurry and get there.

Considering the movie is directed by Ken Kwapis, who has been behind the camera for nine episodes of the NBC television series The Office, it's no surprise that the best performance in the movie comes from The Office star Krasinski (Dreamgirls, The Holiday). But the role of Ben doesn't allow for Krasinski to show much range, constantly playing the straight-man to all of the irrational ongoings around him. Williams is lame and stale as Reverend Frank, while Moore (Because I Said So, American Dreamz) unfortunately has hit a career low with this outing.

A highly humorless romantic comedy, License to Wed will be one of the biggest disappointments of 2007, considering most involved have already shown they are capable of much better work.


1/2-a-star/****


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Old 07-21-2007, 11:59 AM   #141
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The Abandoned
Directed by Nacho Cerda
Written by Nacho Cerda, Karim Hussain and Richard Stanley
Starring Paraskeva Djukelova, Valentin Ganev, Anastasia Hille, Carlos Reig-Plaza and Karel Roden


8 Films to Die For was a three-night horror film festival in nearly 500 theatres in the United State in November of 2006. The festival featured eight independent horror movies, each of which was produced by After Dark Films. Seven of the films from the festival were released together on DVD in March of this year, except for Spanish film director Nacho Cerda's The Abandoned, which received a stand-alone theatrical release in 2007.

Marie Jones (Anastasia Hille) is an American film producer who, beginning at a young age, was raised by adoptive parents in the United States, and has now decided to return to her homeland of Russia to gain information on her biological parents. Jones discovers that her parents are deceased and they have left her a home in a remote wooded area. But despite being warned of a local superstition surrounding the decaying house, Jones elects to travel her family's homestead to seek out more knowledge of the parents she barely knew.

But upon arrival, the warnings that Jones chose to disregard begin to take fruition, resulting in several strange and mysterious occurences. Jones is soon rescued in the house by Nicolai (Karel Roden), who claims to be her twin brother and also on a mission to acquire information on their parents. The two then become plagued by visions of ghosts, as time begins to move in reverse and history begins to replay itself.

More of a stylish supernatural thriller than a horror flick, The Abandoned is a slightly intriguing but heavily flawed movie. Featuring some strong cinematography work from Xavi Gimenez (The Machinist, Darkness) and a couple of solid tension-building sequences from director Cerda, the movie creates an engrossing atmosphere and tone that will surely peak your interest, but an incredibly slow start and too many tedious and drawn-out scenes make it extremely hard to get too deeply invested in the movie's happenings.

On several occassions the film's dialogue completely disappears, and the audience is stuck wandering around aimlessly through this haunted house with the picture's puzzling characters. And once the dialogue rejoins the picture, it ends up missing the mark, never bothering to make any sense or provide any understanding to the events or relationships on the screen, and too many sections of the story are left ambiguous to the viewer.

And while certain technical and artistic merits are above-average for this genre of film in this day-and-age, the movie's acting is noticeably subpar. During the flick's beforementioned silent and lengthy moments, both Hille and Roden lack any chemistry or screen presence and end up taking you out of some of the more suspenseful experiences in the movie.

Containing an eerie atmosphere and a well-established tone, The Abandoned regrettably relies too much on its pervading mood to provide the slightest of tingles.


*.5/****


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Old 07-21-2007, 12:27 PM   #142
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Needing a good rental this weekend Toby, any diamonds in the rough IM not aware of that you would suggest?
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Old 07-21-2007, 12:36 PM   #143
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I don't know if there is anything you wouldn't be aware of, and it's tough to recommend a flick not knowing your tastes and what you have already seen.

If it is something that came out recently that you want to see, and kind of went unnoticed by most, I would suggest the 2006 film A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints with Rosario Dawson, Robert Downey Jr., Shia LaBeouf, Chazz Palminteri and Channing Tatum. It's a gritty, coming of age story of a boy growing up in New York in the 1980s, and the changes he later makes in life.

Also, if you like solid acting, I would also suggest last year's Hard Candy with Ellen Page and Patrick Wilson. It's a pretty riveting film that is hard to turn away from.
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Old 07-21-2007, 04:25 PM   #144
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My bad Toby. Here's what I like in a movie...

* He dies.
* She dies.
* Pretty much all of them die.
* She and the cat live, the rest of them die.
* She and the girl and the dopey marine live, the rest of them die.
* She finally dies.
* She lives again.
* He dies, she sings over the body.
* The other guy's mother forgives him and then he dies.
* Some of them die, but the rest kill the monsters.
* The wizard dies.
* The wizard returns.
* The king returns.
* They live!
* They live, but are reduced to savages.
* They live by eating each other.
* He gets Lou Gehrig's disease.
* He leaves her; she goes home.
* He stays; she leaves with her husband.
* He leaves without her; she stays with her husband.
* He goes home.
* She goes home, with her little dog too.
* They have a problem, but they get home.
* He was home all the time.
* Germs.
* He wins.
* He loses.
* He wins the rematch.
* He loses, but that makes him a winner.
* The only way to win is not to play.
* He goes the distance.
* He becomes a martial arts genius and kicks their butts.
* The shoe fits.
* They get married.
* They don't get married.
* The day is saved.
* The city is saved.
* The world is saved.
* The spy saves the world single-handedly and gets the girl.
* The spy saves the world with the help of some ninjas and gets the girl.
* The world is destroyed.
* The boat sinks.
* The Russians think the boat sinks.
* The boat blows up.
* The boat turns upside down.
* The tower catches fire.
* There's an earthquake.
* He warns of danger, but the mayor refuses to listen.
* They prove his innocence.
* He proves his own innocence.
* They escape from the Nazis.
* Freedom for Scotland?
* Freedom for whales?
* The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one.
* There's only one.
* There isn't only one; he's an alien.
* His mother's dead and he's nuts.
* Her son's dead and she's nuts.
* Her favourite author is injured and she's nuts.
* He's nuts, and now he's on the loose.
* He's nuts, and still on the loose.
* He's tragically misunderstood.
* She was sealed in a well, but it was because she was evil.
* She's a guy!
* He's a girl!
* He's a wizard!
* He's Batman.
* She's the direct descendant of Christ.
* The government buries it in a warehouse.
* They are all unwitting organ donors.
* They get off the island.
* He gets off the island.
* His father saves his life.
* He saves his father's soul.
* Ollie's in another fine mess and Stan is sorry.
* It was really the good sister that tried to kill the bad sister.
* 'Twas beauty killed the beast.
* They killed the wrong ape.
* He coulda been a contender.
* Mr. Blandings builds his dream house.
* He built it; they came.
* They built it on top of an Indian burial ground.
* He wants to live again.
* He wants to be a real boy.
* It's made from people.
* It's made of lead.
* It's a sled.
* There are snakes on the plane.
* The monsters are mutated humans.
* The humans are mutated monsters.
* The butler did it.
* The good guy did it.
* The one we all thought was dead did it.
* The first guy who really did die did it.
* They all did it, and get away with it.
* Nobody did it.
* The mysterious character doesn't exist; the protagonist is actually responsible.
* The traitor is the colonel who sent them on the mission in the first place.
* After a desperate battle, the Zulu give up.
* The Germans lose the war.
* It was all a dream. Or was it?
* It was all an implanted memory. Or was it?
* He's a replicant. Or is he?
* He is destroyed by his own hubris.
* He is destroyed by the creation of his own hubris.
* He swallows his pride; she overcomes her prejudice.
* He's one of the dead people the kid sees.
* He's dead, but he still protects his girlfriend.
* He regains his faith.
* The nuns sing.
* The sailors sing.
* Everybody sings.
* It's the present day.
* It's the future.
* It's full of stars.
* It's a test, and he gets the chocolate factory.
* One robot survives to garden in peace.
* The police chief is on the take.
* The stepmother is behind it all.
* The boy shoots the dog.
* They shoot the deer's mother.
* He shoots this guy, 'cause he... well, there was this girl, who thought she was his daughter, and... well, it's complicated.
* They find it, the rainbow connection, the lovers, the dreamers, and him.
* They raise the money just in time.
* He makes sure his mother falls in love with his father.
* He makes sure the mother lives, and becomes the father.
* He commits the final sin.
* The band gets back together.
* The kids are his opus.
* They ride off into the sunset.
* They live happily ever after.
* and finally, he like French Fried Taters, and mustard on his biscuits.
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Old 07-21-2007, 05:56 PM   #145
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Wow! :lol:
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Old 07-21-2007, 07:31 PM   #146
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dano View Post
My bad Toby. Here's what I like in a movie...

* and finally, he like French Fried Taters, and mustard on his biscuits.
:lol:

Yer pretty F'n warped, Dano...

I like that in a poster...
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Old 07-21-2007, 11:05 PM   #147
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tarkus View Post
:lol:

Yer pretty F'n warped, Dano...

I like that in a poster...


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Old 07-25-2007, 03:13 PM   #148
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Quote:
Originally Posted by catman
Toby, when are you going to review Harry Potter 5? I saw it yesterday and thought it was pretty good.
Long time, no respond.

I am actually going to check out the new Harry Potter flick (which I have heard good things about) on Friday, along with The Simpsons Movie.
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Old 07-26-2007, 04:19 PM   #149
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I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry
Directed by Dennis Dugan
Written by Barry Fanaro, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor
Starring Dan Aykroyd, Jessica Biel, Steve Buscemi, Richard Chamberlain, Allen Covert, Rachel Dratch Kevin James, Ving Rhames, Adam Sandler and Nicholas Turturro


Comedian and actor Adam Sandler founded Happy Madison Productions in 1999, with his production company's name deriving from two of his earliest box-office hits, Happy Gilmore and Billy Madison. Sandler's former Saturday Night Live pals Dana Carvey (Masters of Disguise), Rob Schneider (Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo) and David Spade (Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star) all headlined feature-film duds for Happy Madison Productions, while some of Sandler's weaker efforts, like Anger Management, Eight Crazy Nights and Little Nicky, have also been produced by Happy Madison. But it's Sandler's latest feature I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry that gladly stands beside the worst of the worst.

Sandler stars as wise-cracking and womanizing New York firefighter Chuck Levine, who is best friends with his partner Larry Valentine (Kevin James). Valentine is a widowed father of two, who has been informed by his caseworker that he failed to change the primary beneficiary of his pension by the required deadline, following the passing of his wife. Seemingly out of options, Valentine decides to fake being a homosexual with his friend and co-worker Chuck, in order to name Levine as the caretaker of Larry's children.

But Chuck and Larry's domestic partnership begins to raise some eyebrows with those concerned that their apparent loving relationship is actually staged, in order for Valentine to receive the financial benefits he has recently attained. The two decide to seek out attorney Alex McDonough (Jessica Biel) to represent them against possible fraud charges, but a budding connection between Chuck and Alex soon threatens Levine's friendship with Valentine, as well as the true secret behind their controversial partnership.

A run-of-the-mill comedy entirely short of laughs, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry is a borderline offensive tale that attempts to mask its numerous homophobic and misogynistic jokes by adding a small dose of rhetoric geared specifically towards the politically correct crowd. Unlike Sandler's 2006 comedy Click, this movie never quite makes the effort towards discovering its moral center, and ultimately fails to move past its goofiness in order to deliver its positive message about tolerance and acceptance that audiences would expect.

The film seems peculiarly similar to the 2004 Australian comedy Strange Bedfellows, starring Michael Caton and Paul Hogan as two straight-men who attempt to pass themselves off as a gay couple in order to take advantage of newly legislated tax laws. But unlike Strange Bedfellows, which was a charming, inoffensive comedy with its heart in the right place, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry spends more time enclosing itself in cheap jokes and objectionable stereotypes than locating the emotional punch of the story.

Sandler's role in this flick has forced him to travel several years back to his frat-boy days in Billy Madison, which also feels like an incredible leap backwards in his career. Along with Sandler are several of his Happy Madison buddies, including Steve Buscemi (Art School Confidential, Mr. Deeds), Allen Covert (Grandma's Boy, 50 First Dates) and Nicholas Turturro (World Trade Center, The Longest Yard), who all are distracting to watch as they simply mug for the camera, as opposed to adding to the story.

A movie that had some potential in the beginning, but that was all quickly squandered, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry is an uncomfortable and unfunny film experience.


*/****


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Old 07-27-2007, 03:21 PM   #150
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Hairspray
Directed by Adam Shankman
Written by Leslie Dixon
Starring Nikki Blonsky, Amanda Bynes, Zach Efron, Allison Janney, Elijah Kelley, Queen Latifah, James Marsden, Taylor Parks, Michelle Pfeiffer, Brittany Snow, John Travolta and Christopher Walken


In 1988, John Waters wrote and directed the cult film Hairspray. The movie, which was a musical set in 1962 and focused on a girl who dreams of dancing on a popular local television show which she ends up helping to racially integrate, starred Ricki Lake, Jerry Stiller and Harris Glenn Milstead in his drag persona, Divine. In 2002, the movie was adapted into a Tony Award winning Broadway Musical and later into a Las Vegas production at the Luxor Hotel. Now, an adaptation of both the Broadway Musical and the orginal movie of Hairspray arrives on the big-screen in 2007.

Teenagers Tracy Turnblad (Nikki Blonsky) and Penny Pingleton (Amanda Bynes) are best-friends growing up in Baltimore, who rush home from school in order to watch a beloved local dance show called The Corny Collins Show. While watching the program, Link (Zac Efron), one of the show's headliners, announces that one of their female performers is going on a nine-month hiatus, and television station WYZT and its station manager Velma von Tussle (Michelle Pfeiffer) are holding open auditions for all interested area girls.

Encouraged by her father Wilbur (Christopher Walken), Tracy tries out for the show and ends up impressing host Corny Collins (James Marsden), who invites her to join the cast. Soon, Tracy becomes one of the more popular performers on the program, and her controversial decision to protest WYZT's decision to remove "Negro Day" from its station results in the challenging task of trying to make the The Corny Collins Show become fully integrated.

A bright movie jam-packed with a ton of energy, Hairspray doesn't feel like a worthwhile adaptation, but watching this new cast tackle this classic tale isn't any less enjoyable, either. And while there are slight differences between director Adam Shankman's (Cheaper by the Dozen 2, The Pacifier) latest version and John Waters's 1988 film, both still do a fine job at maintaining a silly, but irresistible presence, with delightful enough musical numbers to keep you immersed in the movie's ongoings.

Newcomer Nikki Blonsky is a wonderful casting decision as Tracy, the likeable and plump youth with an amazing knack for singing and dancing. Blonsky never misses a beat when attempting to keep up with her beforementioned co-stars Bynes, Efron, Marsden, Pfeiffer and Walken, as well as Allison Janney, Elijah Kelley and Brittany Snow, in what is one of the best ensembles of 2007, to date.

But maybe the strongest cast member is Queen Latifah (Stranger than Fiction, Last Holiday), who earned a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award nomination for her work in the musical Chicago, and once again steals the show as Motormouth Maybelle, the owner of a nearby record shop and former host of the television station's "Negro Day." The weakest cast member is undoubtedly John Travolta (Wild Hogs, Be Cool), who is simply more distracting than entertaining in drag while portraying the role of Tracy's mother Edna.

A movie that never aims too high and doesn't try to be anything more than what its predecessors already were, Hairspray is still an entertaining and joyful summer musical.


**.5/****



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