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The drawback to all this gloss, though, is that some of Mr. Waters‘ dramatic tension — OK, a lot of it — is lost. For one, Link’s amorous feelings for Tracy are a little hard to believe, and on a larger scale, race is reduced from a time bomb to a series of punch lines. The humor might be juicy (Miss Bynes gets a particularly saucy line about “chocolate” that’ll milk a lot of laughs), but does Queen Latifah really have to sing something as trite as “The night is black as my skin”?

“Hairspray” doesn’t make any great statements, ultimately, but it’s a warm, colorful confection that should be more than palatable to audiences, whether they come for Mr. Travolta or Mr. Efron.


TITLE: “Hairspray”

RATING: PG (some language, suggestive content and teen smoking)

CREDITS: Directed and choreographed by Adam Shankman. Written by Leslie Dixon based on the Broadway musical’s book by Mark O’Donnell and Thomas Meehan. Music by Marc Shaiman.

RUNNING TIME: 107 minutes