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Movie Review


MPAA Rating: PG for language, some suggestive content and momentary teen smoking

Reviewed by: Sheri McMurray

Very Offensive
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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Adults, Teens
Comedy, Drama, Musical, Remake, Dance, Remake
1 hr. 57 min.
Year of Release:
USA Release:
July 20, 2007 (wide)
Copyright, New Line Cinema
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Relevant Issues
Copyright, New Line Cinema

Dance in the Bible

Music in the Bible

What are the consequences of racial prejudice and false beliefs about the origin of races? Answer

Racism, Racial Issues and Christianity
Get biblical answers to racial hot-topics. Where did the races come from? How did skin color come about? Why is it important to have a biblical foundation for such issues?
Featuring: John Travolta
Nicole Blonsky (debut)
Amanda Bynes
Christopher Walken
Elijah Kelley, Queen Latifah, Michelle Pfeiffer, Brittany Snow, James Marsden, Allison Janney, Taylor Parks, Jesse Weafer
Director: Adam Shankman—“A Walk to Remember,” “The Wedding Planner
Producer: Marc Shaiman, Scott Wittman, Jennifer Gibgot
Distributor: New Line Cinema, division of Warner Bros. Pictures

“It was a time of tradition, a time of values, and a time …to shake things up.”

“Hairspray” is a musical extravaganza, wanting to enthrall it’s audience and capture some of the exuberance of the Broadway show. Unfortunately, it felt forced on the audience. It says ‘hey, look at me aren’t, I bright and energizing,’ but, instead, the only edifying thing in it was the bubbly personality of the lead character, Tracy Turnblad, who seemed weirdly out of place amongst all the decadence.

Set in a 60s atmosphere in Baltimore, the characters deal musically and good naturedly with some pretty heavy issues faced at the dawn of the civil rights movement and the end of conservatism that was the post war 50s.

Tracy Turnblad (Nikki Blonsky, 18 year old newcomer in her screen debut) is an overweight high-school student whose only dream is to be on a local Baltimore teen dance program, The Corny Collins Show (an American Bandstand wannabe) staring Corny (James Marsden) and his “Council”—a group of perfect, white, stuck up, conservative teenagers.

While her quirky father (Christopher Walken) who runs the Fun Jokes and Magic shop tells her to follow her dreams, Copyrighted, New Line Cinemaher mother (the much touted roll with John Travolta in drag) reminds her that she doesn’t look like the girls on that show, and in the same breath asks everyone if they’d like a little snack of pork.

After impressing Corny, the show’s host, Tracy earns a coveted spot on the program, but when she becomes a popular addition to the cast she earns the wrath of the prettiest girl in school, Amber (Brittany Snow)—a girl whose mother Velma Von Tussle (Michelle Pfeiffer, after a five year screen absence), just happens to operate the local television station, WYZT, that hosts the Corny Collins Show.

Soon Tracy learns about racial tension when everyone is aghast at the budding relationship between her best friend Penny Pingleton (Amanda Bynes) and an African-American boy, Seaweed Stubbs (Elijah Kelley). In detention after school, Tracy learns some cool dance moves along with finding out that the black kids she hangs out with are her best friends, despite the obvious racial differences.

Tracy is secretly in love with the top heart-throb on the show Linc Larkin (Zac Efron from “High School Musical” 1,2,3), and her dancing finally makes him notice her.

The comedic plot gets heavy when eventually Tracy attempts to integrate the races on her favorite dance program, calling not to have one “Negro Day,” but to make every day “checker board.”

Soon Tracy has everyone Marching on Baltimore TV station WYZT, including her unwilling, oversized Mom, to “integrate, not segregate,” losing her chance to vie for Ultra Crunch Hairspray Queen in order to stand up for what is right. Here, “Hairspray” provides a winking awareness of the way the white mainstream strip-mined African-American musical culture that just barely saves the movie from smugness. Or as Tracy says, “Being invited places by black people—it’s so hip!”

For all it’s good intentions, I found this film a Christian parent’s nightmare. Do not allow your kids to see this film alone. Although rated: PG for language, some suggestive content, and momentary teen smoking, there’s much more going on than that.

As in “Dirty Dancing,” a film with the same sentiments at heart, the dancing is very suggestive. Much hip undulating, butt slapping and tongue licking. The lyrics, although intended as comic and at times, suggestive of our uncivil civil rights issues past, in places do raise an eyebrow. The suggestion of teen promiscuity goes with a girl who “goes on leave” from the dance show for “9 months” and everyone smiles. The rant that Velma Von Tussle won her beauty pageant title because she “screwed the judges.” The reference that Ultra Crunch Hair Spray will “give you a stiffy.” That all the suggestive dance moves will “attract the opposite sex.” In the beginning scene, a cameo by John Waters (original film) as a flasher. Drawings passed around in class of a teacher with breasts. A cigarette dispenser where the cigarette is dispensed though the horses behind. Not to mention sexually suggestive song lyrics like, “The blacker the berry the sweeter the juice.” All had my Christian parent red flag alert popping up continually.

To my mind, there were only two times any sort of foul language was used when a character blurted out “Kiss my a**.” There was one time the Lord’s name was taken in vain. Characters did smoke, drink and dance in a suggestive manner, and there were two kisses.

I found the depiction of Penny’s mother, Prudy Pingleton (Allison Janney) as a religious fanatic, with a rosary as a bookmark in a dirty joke book and tying Penny to her bed forced to listen to “Church” music as punishment, very disturbing. All the negative messages hinting that good behavior, religious stability, good moral conduct and obeying the law are all qualities we don’t need, were very alarming. These messages just didn’t jive with the wonderful messages of accepting others, no matter what their color or outward appearance, equality and family love and encouragement in times of trouble.

Although I have much to crab about, there were positive qualities dotted throughout this high energy musical, unfortunately you have to really look for most of them. Uppermost, of course, is the message that we are all created equal and deserve equal treatment in every aspect of our lives. True love between a man and wife, and staying with that person for life, no matter what “shape” their body becomes. To love that heart that beats within all peoples. Parents standing by their children, and vice versa, because of an unconditional family love and standing by what is right in the eyes of our Heavenly Father (it was there in the “integration, not segregation” theme, but as I said—you must look for it) are ripe within the plot.

Queen Latifah as Motormouth Maybelle—belting out “There’s a Light” as black and white alike march through the streets of Baltimore (“I know where I’m going’ cause I know where I’ve been”) gave me definite chills. I just wish the whole show could have done the same.

“Hairspray” is originally based on the 1988 John Waters comedy about star-struck teenagers on a local Baltimore dance show. The new version of the film is based on New Line’s hit Broadway adaptation of the film, which debuted in 2002, and went on to win eight Tony Awards including Best Musical, Best Score, Best Book and Best Director. Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman have contributed new songs to their Tony Award-winning score for their movie version.

You might want to look for cameos by the original film’s Ricki Lake and Pia Zadora. Pfeiffer plays the evil TV station manager to the hilt, and it was good to see her back on screen. Travolta, who plays Edna Turnblad, one must note here, didn’t accept the role only as a chance to be camp, a MAN has always played her part from the beginning.

If you like Musicals with a bizarre twist such as “Little Shop Of Horrors,” then go see “Hairspray” without the kids. If you are looking for a comedy like the original John Waters film or you think John Travolta will dazzle you like he did in “Grease,” then save your money because you will probably be disappointed.

Violence: None / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: Moderate

See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.

Viewer Comments
Comments available:
Positive—It’s hard to watch “Hairspray” without a smile on your face. The music and dancing keep you engaged and the characters are very likeable. There is hardly a moment’s break from Tracy’s optimistic view of the world, even though the characters face the daunting issue of race relations in the early '60s. A few bad words are thrown in, and there is one “religious” character who is portrayed as very narrow-minded and plain mean. But the overall theme of the film is acceptance of others, no matter their size, shape or color, and that is a theme all Christians can embrace.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 5
—Leah, age 47
Positive—High energy and a lot of fun. This film is packed with foot tapping music and plenty of dancing. At the heart of the movie is the racial divide of 1960s Baltimore. The movie deals with the issue without being overly preachy. Conversely though, it also sugarcoats some of the real tensions of the time. However, that is in keeping with the movie—it is not a documentary—it is a musical. Casting is well done and the film moves along at a good pace. There are many biblical themes to discuss: judging others based on external qualities like skin color or weight or social standing; pursuing what is “right or just” rather than what is popular; cultural prejudices; bearing false witness either overtly or by perverting the facts; helping your children to grow, breaking out of bad habits and taking joy in life. The mother of one of the kids is shown as very dogmatic and strict, calling her daughter evil because she hangs with Tracy, the girl who wants to dance. There are a few foul words, suggestive dancing in one sequence and an intimate interracial kiss. John Travolta portrays Tracy’s mother and is engaging. But if men dressing as women is bothersome, then this will not sit well with you. Interestingly, the central themes are still relevant today and the movie offers parents teachable moments to share with children.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4½
—Jeff Mc, age 47
Positive—I went saw “Hairspray” today. Wow, did I love it and feel good when I left. Remember I’m 44. What I enjoyed, I cannot say would be good for my 8 year old. There were sexual references that my young son doesn’t need to have pondered in his young mind. So I’m saying great for adults, but not a family movie like OPRAH had said. This movie was though a big plus for me. I laughed out loud quite a few times. Even found myself wanting to learn the songs that was on the screen. I fell in love with young Lucy. I think got a kick out of EDNA as mom. JOHN TROVOTLA truly does well in musicals. Hmmm wonder what Olivia Newton John is doing these days? So if you want a great musical with a great message about a change that has taken place last century. If you want to laugh. If you want to dance around in your local movie theatre: go see “Hairspray”. I loved it.
My Ratings: Average / 4½
—ROCKINRON, age 44
Positive—I just got home from this movie, and I must say I disagree with the principle reviewers comments (I read the comments after seeing the movie). It is a very well made and fun movie. Very offensive? I guess if someone was really, really easily offended. There was a guy playing a girl (usually something that bothers me) and the lead’s best friend’s mom was what you might call a “way way over the top stereotypical Christian” in a bad way, but it’s not supposed to be insulting to Christians. She’s the funniest character in the whole movie!!!… They weren’t trying to be offensive and insulting they were trying to be funny, and it was. I am usually very sensitive about that kind of stuff, but this movie is supposed to be taken lightly while still tackling some big issues. I guess different people will find different things offensive. I find some kid-directed movies can be more offensive (“Happy Feet,” “Dicky Roberts” and so on). This is an extremely enjoyable movie and well made. …I was most entertained!!!
My Ratings: Average / 5
—Lisa, age 19
Positive—My 10 year old daughter and I went to see this movie opening day. I was looking forward to seeing a PG musical holding memories of “Grease.” We both enjoyed this movie, the music and the acting. Though I agree that having John Travolta as the Mom was distracting I thought he did a wonderful job, he looked great and I especially liked the fact that his voice was not changed for singing. The young lady playing the lead did a wonderful job. She was full of self confidence and held her head high. Her dancing was another way of showing her self confidence in herself. She was not afraid or did not hold back because of her weight. She believed in people regardless of looks, weight, or color. This shows that her parents (as odd as they were) raised her as their gift, seeing life as it should be. Acting is about being the character (male or female). They did it wonderfully. Both my daughter and I could not take our eyes off the screen, we enjoyed the music, acting and dancing.

…Most musicals are supposed to be light-hearted. These writers, directors and actors touched on sensitive subject matter in an open way. Using terms that we all consider offensive but nothing we are not aware of and all should be talking with our families about. I do agree the mom that tied her child up and forced her to listen to her music in order to keep her from bad choices was a bit extreme for this movie. But, the daughter (I know her as Amanda on the 'Amanda show) kept it comedic and light and unfortunate teen rebellion is another subject all of us have had to work through with someone we love. So, remembering “Grease” I also remember John Travolta singing about his “Summer Lovin” and another character thinking she was pregnant and all of them smoking, racing and some wanting to drop out of school. I have to say this was an awesome movie that I loved to see made and will hope it will have it’s place in history.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4
—Diane, age 40
Positive—I thoroughly enjoyed this film. The acting was superb, the production values high, and Travolta was hilarious every time he appeared on screen. The new girl in the starring role was great. In answer to one of the comments regarding why they cast a man (Travolta) in the mother’s role, it wasn’t a case of bad casting. There are two reasons for it:
1. A male has always played the part, in every incarnation of this story.
2. I can’t say this with certainty, but I strongly suspect that casting a male in the part is a subtle hint that the film, which talks about race relations in the 60s, is really trying to say something about acceptance of gays/lesbians in our modern day.
My Ratings: Offensive / 4½
—Tim Blair, age 43
Positive—I really enjoyed the movie. Although it had those very few suggestive things, all in all I thought it was great. Those positive things like self acceptance, racial acceptance, are not far and few between. I respect the views given but I have to disagree this time. I guess it’s just a matter of opinion. Those good things of acceptance stood out big time to me. By the way, I don’t remember the rosary bookmark being in a “dirty joke book.”
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4½
—Kristi, age 30
Positive—I’m pretty conservative and picky, and I thought the movie was fine and fun. I took my 5 year old daughter, and she loved the singing and dancing. I can’t remember anything horribly offensive, but if there was, it went over her head. (I can’t see boys liking this movie at all.)…
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4½
—Lucy, age 37
Positive—I really loved this movie. I was either laughing, giggling or smiling the whole movie! The acting was phenomenal and since I love musicals it was right up my alley. Travolta was perfect for this part. It wasn’t a role for the weak, and he did a terrific job.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 5
—Shirley, age almost 40
Positive—I haven’t seen the same movie multiple times in a theater since the mid-80s. I have seen “Hairspray” twice and plan to see it again tomorrow. I love musicals and this one had my toes tapping the entire time. The star studded cast, the incredible singing, dancing and costumes and the whole premise of accepting people despite their weight or skin color—I LOVED THIS MOVIE. Yes, it had several parts (mentioned above) that were not appropriate for children. While I would never have taken my children to this when they were younger, I do plan to take my teenage boys (14,16) to the film and have some discussion afterwards about many scenes in the movie. The overall message is a good one. I do not recommend for children under 14 years old. If you liked “Grease” or “Little Shop of Horrors,” you’ll like this one.
My Ratings: Average / 4½
—Julie S., age 46
Positive—This movie is a MUST SEE for everyone! There are some flaws (yes the dancing can be seen as offensive, but it’s done in such a comical way it really wasn’t an issue, and the “Christian Character” is typical Hollywood fodder) but the message is far too important to be missed. People can be so cruel to other people who are “different.” I am overweight. Always have been (since age 12) and for 18 years I have gone to movies without seeing positive portrayals of people like me on the screen. Well, I can’t say that anymore …praise Jesus! Tracy is great. She is not afraid or ashamed of who she is, and she and her father help her mother to love herself as well. What’s more, Mr. Turnbull loves his very large wife without regard for her size. Where has that message ever been seen before? Fat ugly guys always get hot wives in movies and on television. Well, my husband is gorgeous (ask an ex-friend who tried to lure him away a couple years ago) and he loves me just as I am and is fiercely loyal and shows his attraction to me daily. I have never seen any such thing in a film before “Hairspray.” The Turnbulls have a wonderful marriage and are a great role-model for how couples should treat each other. AND John Travolta was wonderful as Mrs. Turnbull! He was not offensive in anyway. He was funny and showed his talent in musical theater in a beautiful was. The other issue tackled in the film is racism. It is so hard for someone like me (born in 1976) to comprehend that things were so racially skewed just 40 years ago in this country. The reminder is important for those of us who didn’t live through the civil rights-era. As for the film being too showy or glitzy… whatever! Have you ever been to a Broadway show? …“Hairspray” is the most broadway-like experience is have ever seen on the big screen. Well done. Go see it!! You will not look at people of different sizes or different races in the same way again.
My Ratings: Average / 5
—Charity, age 30
Positive—This movie was fun, wholesome entertainment. I wanted to jump out of my theatre seat and start dancing and singing! However, there were two things I found somewhat unsettling about “Hairspray.” One was the fact that Penny’s mother is a so-called “Christian” who is an absolute killjoy—the portrayal of her character offers a stereotypical view of Christians. The other issue I had was with the idea that being “fat” or “overweight” is normal and nothing needs to change; obesity is NOT a healthy, normal state of being, and it can contribute to such complications as heart problems, high cholesterol, and depression. If you are able to get past these minor concerns, this film is highly entertaining!
My Ratings: Average / 4½
—Cornelius Christian, age 19
Positive—I read the comments of the reviewer and was leery, but decided to see the movie myself with my husband. We both are pretty picky when it comes to movies, but we both really enjoyed this one. We are still puzzled as to why the reviewer said this is extremely offensive. I think that sometimes we Christians get too alarmed at EVERYTHING!!
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4
—Susan, age 39
Positive—I absolutely loved this movie, and have seen it 3 times already with various people. I found this to be a great storyline, showing that it’s OK to be different (overweight, or black/white) and that we need to accept people who are different than us and support them. I loved the music in the movie, and bought the soundtrack right away! Yes, there are about 2 lines in the movie that I’m not sure my mother would love, but overall, I have no problem taking my 50 year old, strict Christian mom to see this movie! Some of the dancing is suggestive, yes, and Michelle Pfiefer’s character has a screwed up way of thinking, but the overall values the movie portrays makes it worth every penny!! You leave there wishing life was a musical, and thinking that even you could dance in the street feeling completely comfortable no matter what your size, stature or anything else. It was a feel good movie, and I will definitely be seeing it again, and buying it when it comes out on DVD!!
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4½
—Rhonda, age 23
Positive—I thought this movie/musical did a good job of presenting a difficult topic (racial reconciliation) in a light-hearted way. Unfortunately, some of the dancing is inappropriate and could’ve been done in a clean way, but I still think it’s worth seeing. And for the record “The blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice” is not (at least in all the contexts I’ve heard it—and I’m black) a sexual comment—it’s a common phrase more along the lines of being black or dark-skinned is a good, beautiful thing, not ugly or unattractive as some people believe.
My Ratings: Average / 5
—Ashley, age 20
Positive—I went and saw “Hairspray” this summer with a group of friends from the Bible camp where I worked as a counselor. From our discussion of the movie afterward, I gathered that everyone enjoyed it and nobody was offended at all. There were several positive things about “Hairspray” that stuck out for me. I really loved Tracy’s upbeat, positive personality. Even when faced with serious difficulties, she can always see the bright side. I also really appreciated the movie’s handling of racism and discrimination against overweight people. One of my favorite parts of the movie was when Tracy’s father remains loyal to his very overweight wife even when tempted by a slim, attractive woman. Speaking of Tracy’s mother, John Travolta does a great job and is not distracting or offensive.

I don’t remember being especially offended by anything in the movie. It’s not perfect; there is some slightly suggestive dancing and a few lines that might raise eyebrows. Overall, however, it is really very clean. A quick note about the “religious zealot” character who has offended many Christians: Yes, she is mean, strict, and racist, and looks very religious. But I saw her not as a stereotype of Christians, but as a reminder of what happens when people mix up their own flawed views with God’s truth. The Bible really has been misused to justify racism, and this character reminds us of that. Overall, “Hairspray” is a very fun movie that I recommend wholeheartedly!
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4½
—Chris, age 20
Positive—The “Grease” of this generation, this film was a blast! One of the best musicals to come out of 2007, I really enjoyed it very, very much. The performances were great all around. John Travolta was creepy, yet hilarious. If you’re a fan of the John Waters original, then I definitely recommend this one. Go see it! Some people may be offended by the interracial dating aspect of it, but has more to do with their own personal prejudices than anything else.
My Ratings: Average / 5
—Adam Renkovish, age 25
Positive—This movie is great fun, with wonderful music, good performances, and some serious underlying themes. I have two young nieces, not quite yet in their teens, and I think Traci Turnblad will be a wonderful role model for them—I hope they will survive their teen years with the self-confidence that she has. I wouldn’t say that there are no moral problems with the movie (though sometimes I thought that the main reviewer is looking too hard for them—for example, by identifying “The blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice” as being offensive), but I think they are much outweighed by two moral issues that Christians ought to be able to be able to get behind—judging others by the content of their character rather than by appearance and standing up to authority when authority is wrong. Sometimes it looks like Christians equate moral issues with sexual matters, so I was glad to see that so many of those who commented on the reviews took a broader view.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Kathi, age 51, Japan
Positive—While not the best musical I have ever seen, “Hairspray” was an enjoyable film. Ok, I’ll admit Penny’s religious mom was portrayed badly, but I don’t really think that was the point of the movie, so don’t put it under a microscope. It was mostly in there for humor, and it was funny, if you go into the film with the right attitude. …the movie had a good clean point and a cute story, not to mention an all star cast. Some of the music was actually very good, and I was glad the movie could have the point of civil rights, without having to make other ridiculous points a long the way (i.e: “Remember the Titans” also was about civil rights and racism, but it had to tie in a gay person).
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 4
—Maggie, age 21
Positive—I’ve reviewed some past comments about the film, including some things such as John Travolta cross dressing, or sexual content, or even the friend of the main character’s (played by Amanda Bynes) mother being offensive to Christians. I will admit, this movie has its questionable material. Even the Bible talks about sex, so it’s hard to say a movie including a scene between a husband and a wife singing about their love together and putting out the lights before… well you know… it’s hard to say it doesn’t have it’s biblically positive aspects. With so many movies out there being about divorce, and the idea that to a better life is to “start over” and dump everyone who’s bringing you down, it’s honestly really refreshing, from a Christian stand point, to see a movie include a couple devoted to each other, no matter what shape.

As for the dancing, I didn’t see anything offensive. There is a scene that includes the teens pulling out toilet paper from stuffing bras or socks from boys pants, and this was actually a farce towards the sex crazed media that rules our society—and the pressure people on TV have to deal with. It poked fun at it and made it look ridiculous; it didn’t promote it.

As for John Travolta, even though his character flip-flopped from being a good “lesson” provider (such as learning to love oneself) and being well… a guy in drags and a farce, his dancing, dialogue and well… role was actually pretty innocent. I would say “Mrs. Doubtfire” was worse. I mean, his character is a woman, so you can’t bring down the character, and as for Travolta, he was really modest about being in drag. I wouldn’t recommend this movie for anyone younger than 11. Plus, it’s important to teach our children to love people who cross dress, are bisexual and etc. … they are also loved by God, whether or not what they do is biblical. Most people who are this, feel very hated by God, and freaking about about a cross dresser in a really uplifting movie adds to this hate. I mean, if we don’t be “accepting” (loving), as is the theme of the movie, we will wind up looking like, and well, being the hypocrite the friends mother is portrayed as. So maybe this movie could be a good way to explain to our kids to love the sinner, hate the sin.

Lastly, the bible-crazed mother. She was a farce, as well. It did not demean Jesus, God, or anything actually IN the bible, it made fun of religious fanaticism’s, her views were “cultural Christianity” and not “biblical Christianity.” She was forceful of her beliefs on her daughter, she was hateful, she was hypocritical (such as having a rosary in a dirty joke book) and far from actual biblical teachings. It’s good that families talk about what it actually means to be a christian, and what it doesn’t because so many people get lost in the title and don’t actually make it a lifestyle—such as going to church on Sundays, but not living for God the rest of the week… not saying I haven’t been guilty of that, it’s just not something I’m willing to defend or get offended when some one else pokes fun at it.

And as for making non-believers waver, perhaps God will use this character to show them that it’s the people who have faults and not Him. Given it would been nice to have some one who was a contrast to her, which Queen Latifa’s part pretty much was that just not… so bluntly. If you have a child, mother, brother, sister, friend, father who is insecure, is down on themselves and such, this movie is really uplifting for those types. I mean, if I had a movie like this to throw on after being teased in H.S. (which didn’t happen often, but it happens to most everyone) I would probably have been a lot more confident in myself.

All in all, great family movie for middle school and up, besides, all the issues in the movie are over young children’s heads anyway, so if it wasn’t for the dancing and colors, they would get bored and their not missing out. Throw it on with your teenager and laugh with them.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Megan Simon, age 19
Positive—…I thought “Hairspray” 2007 was and is one of the most enjoyable feel good movies I have EVER seen. I am saved and sure… and would only think someone stuck in legalism could have a problem with anything about this movie. It promoted good family values and interaction, showed how a overbearing legalistic mother can actually damage the ability of God to work in lives and peoples perception of him. This movie was AWESOME! I strongly recommend this movie to anyone who wants to feel GOOD and loves the life… and wants to see the God giving gift of joyous music looks like in the right hands.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Ricky Gilbert, age 46
Neutral—“Hairspray” is definitely a peppy movie, with upbeat music and dancing from beginning to end. In that sense, it reminded me of musicals of yesteryear. The singing works—it really moves the story along. And like many musicals in the past, it paints the world through rose-colored glasses. Unfortunately, underneath the polished production are some strange concepts that marred this otherwise pleasant movie for me. Why oh why was John Travolta cast to play the mother?? I found his drag performance extremely distracting; I simply couldn’t answer the casting question. Also, religion is presented with ridicule, giving a blasphemous tone to the story that I found offensive. One of the lead characters, Link, obviously falls for Tracy because of her backside gyrations as she dances. The theme of racism is presented in a very simplistic form, belittling such a very serious topic. Rebellion against parents is presented as normal and advisable; obedience to parents is mocked. Authority figures, such as the police, are presented as all liars and fools. So all in all, despite the beautiful performances by all the actors, especially the stunning Michelle Pfeiffer, who plays a very shallow, devious, cunning and narrow-minded woman to perfection, as well as the very engaging music and choreography, I thought the movie, sadly, has little to offer.
My Ratings: Average / 4
Halyna Barannik, age 61
Neutral—A musical that is rated PG (and is a remake of an older version) gave me the impression that I wouldn’t find too much bad content, if much at all. I was surprised to find some sexual references and a few spots where I heard a bad word. I was sitting next to a little girl and she was sitting next to her mom. There were a couple times that the lady told her daughter to “not say that word.” If parents have to tell their children to not do something that’s in a movie, how does watching a movie like that glorify God at all? Nonetheless, I’ll give a neutral answer. It was better than some of the kids shows my little brother watches on cartoon network and many of the Nickelodeon shows. Remember Paul’s words to the Romans: 'Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will' (Romans 12:2).
My Ratings: Average / 4½
—Thomas Luttrell, age 19
Neutral—This movie was very shocking for all ages. If you are a Christian or a parent you will not want to take your children to see it. It was very offensive—men dressed up as women (John Travolta). …horrible.
My Ratings: Extremely Offensive / 1½
—tara, age 35
Negative—I would love to say this was a family movie. But please keep your children AWAY. I felt very offended through out the whole movie. While sitting there, my 12 year old daughter leaned over to me and says “Mom, I think they under-rated this movie.” I do not feel it sends a good moral message to our children. I agree with everything in the review about the movie sending strong sexual suggestions. It makes me very sad that we cannot find more movies that encourage our girls to not be boy-crazed. One that also encourage Godly behavior.
My Ratings: Very Offensive / 4
—Regina Whitaker, age 34
Negative—I am not a big fan of musicals in the first place, however, I would have given this film a positive rating had it not been for some objectionable material. There are a few cuss words, but what upset me more were the sexual suggestions. Women are seen unstuffing their chests after a television show has ended, meanwhile the men are seen taking rolled up towels out of the front of their pants. The average dancing didn’t bother me at all, but in one scene some rather sexual dancing is shown (and portrayed as the cool, new-age dancing that will soon sweep the nation). There is the “race” relations issue which is prevalent throughout, requiring a possible explanation for younger viewers. Also, one mother is portrayed as a Christian “fundamentalist” who is always wrong, outdated, and unintelligent. She also seems to be racist towards black-Americans. I wouldn’t necessarily suggest not to see this movie if you like musicals, but know what you are getting into, and make sure it is age appropriate for those you view the film with.
My Ratings: Average / 3½
—T. Taylor, age 21
Comments from young people
Negative—This film was quite a shocker! I went with the family expecting a “High School Musical” type of atmosphere. I knew one of the characters was in it from the previous movie. I rate my movies in a number of categories: One the acting, as far as acting goes it was pretty good. Nothing amazing, but overall they did a good job picking. John Travolta was a little shocking, and I could not get over the fact of him cross dressing. I have seen “Mrs. Doubtfire” and “White Chicks,” with other cross dressing men, but the fact in those films was they were PLAYING THE PART as women, Travolta was being the woman. Also the material. This I found quiet offensive in some parts, there was swearing three different times, many sexual comments and a bunch of suggestive dancing/acting. Finally the plot/themes. Even though I found the plot to be a little predictable, I do in most movies, so that goes without saying. The themes were about the best thing throughout the whole movie. Overall, it is not that the movie itself was bad, it is just that, in my opinion, it was rated wrong. It probably should’ve been PG-13 or made more for kids.
My Ratings: Average / 1½
—Brent, age 17
Negative—I saw this film with a group of my friends and was very disappointed with it. It had a few very great moments, but the rest was full of innuendo and other offensive content. There was a lot of swearing and sexual comments, as well as a “jokeshop seduction attempt” scene where Velma attempts to seduce Tracy’s father. The dancing was also disturbing at times. there was a lot of shaking and butt slapping that was more than a little suggestive. The singing was what made the show funny, along with some great punchlines from Penny. However, Penny’s mother was portrayed as a fanatical catholic who was the brunt of a few jokes. She was also portrayed as completely adverse to integration, thus belittling religion and branding it as a narrow-minded cult. Some moments in the film I really enjoyed were during the African American march through the streets for civil rights, and the overall theme of acceptance. However, that theme may be abused, especially with Travolta playing a woman. Overall, I think that the good parts in this movie are far outnumbered by the bad, and wouldn’t suggest it for children under 13. Or, have parents watch the movie first and discern for themselves.
My Ratings: Offensive / 3½
—Tammy, age 15
Neutral—I am a big musical fan. When I heard the first song, I thought, “I am gonna LOVE this movie.” I was really disappointed by the time the movie was over. Plot-wise I felt the ending was terribly abrupt. I felt like I wanted more background, and it wasn’t offering me more. I did enjoy the mood change when main character, Tracy, went to detention and saw all the dancing. I was upset when Tracy changed in the marching scene from a earlier, happy, bubbly high-schooler to a rebellious, angry criminal. She went from a good role model, to an extremely selfish person. The immediate acceptance of integration was completely unrealistic and totally distracting to me. The casting was great, except John Travolta who was totally freaking me out.

Morally, I was extremely offended by the many scenes that suggested sexual activity. I couldn’t believe the abundant encouraged disobedience by main characters. Penny’s mother may have been “over the top,” but she still needed respect. The police were completely disrespected by the main character and friends. When she “assaulted” the police officer, the other characters considered that as alright, but it wasn’t. Overall, the beginning was great, but it slowly snowballed into something offensive and disappointing.
My Ratings: Offensive / 4
—Charlatte, age 15
Positive—I thought that “Hairspray” was an excellent movie and a good family film. There was very little swearing and although there were a few sexual references, there was nothing that a young child would understand if they didn’t already know about everything. Yes, racism, was a huge theme, but the people who complain that it is “anti-Christian” are going overboard. The film takes place in the 1960s when racism was prevalent, and racism still exists, and it is a relevant issue for children to know about. Also, at the end of the movie, we get a happy ending when the racism on the TV networks are overcome. I don’t find the dancing provocative in the least. Parents who think it’s offensive should see the dancing at the parties their teenagers attend. The PG rating is appropriate as the movie is not perfectly appropriate, but I’d certainly take my younger cousins to see it. The music is fun, and it’s a very “get happy” film. As a disclaimer, some Christians may be offended by the portrayal of Penny’s mother as a Christian fanatic. However, as a Christian, I found it amusing, and I think it’s important to remember that they are not implying that every Christian acts that way. Also, frankly, no one judges the worldwide Christian community by the portrayal of a minor character in “Hairspray”, and it is absolutely crazy to think that people do. Overall, a great, family-friendly movie!
My Ratings: Good / 4
—Sara, age 15
Positive—Wow, “Hairspray” is by far the best movie I have viewed this summer, if not the best movie I have EVER seen! The whole time watching this film I could not turn my huge smile to a frown. The colors were bright and vivid, the characters hilarious, the dancing spectacular, and the songs extremely catchy. However, although the filmmaking itself is wonderful, there are a few things that may be offensive to Christians…

1. Although this film concludes that segregation and racism is wrong, a lot of it is present at the beginning and middle of the film.
2. A Christian character is very mean and overprotective of her daughter, and is also racist.
3. There are a few mild curse words… a few D*mns, and one exclamation of 'kiss my a*s'.
Overall, I definitely recommend this film to anyone who wants to see a feel good movie! You wont be disappointed!!!
My Ratings: Average / 5
—Jessaca, age 15
Positive—This movie is thoroughly enjoyable from beginning to end! The music is catchy, the costumes are fun, the dancing is entertaining, and the casting was really really good. The movie talks about how everyone is equal and standing up for what you believe in and following your dreams. I can only recall 1 swear word (a**) though there is some sexual innuendo (but if you were to take younger kids I don’t think they’d pick up on it or understand anyway). The main thing that people might have a problem with is John Travolta playing Edna, the main character’s mom. But it is really really funny. I can’t even start to say how good this movie was. There were people of all ages in the audience, both guys and girls and you really leave the theater in a good mood. Compared to what we are exposed to lately in society I would say it is pretty tame. “Hairspray” is extremely well done, and if you like to laugh and tap your feet to the music and feel good then I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4½
—Crysta, age 17
Positive—I LOVED THIS MOVIE!!! terrific acting, great cast, good plot. I really liked it and I definitely recommend this movie for all, teens and up!
My Ratings: Excellent! / 4½
—Sarah, age 15
Positive—This movie I thought was a very good movie! It does sadly have a big segregation between the black and white people, but it ends well!! It does have a couple of bad words in it, too. It is a very great movie even with the negative parts!! You cannot sit there and not have a smile on you face with all the wonderful dancing and singing in it! It made me want to see the Broadway now! I thought it was very funny seeing Johnny Travolta being the mother! I have seen “Grease,” and it made me smile! I recommend it to anyone to see!! A very well put together movie!
My Ratings: Good / 5
—Lauren, age 12
Positive—“Hairspray” is a good movie for the family. Only 3 expletives (2 d*mns, and 1 Kiss My *ss); however, there’s some sexual innuendo (example: 'We won’t go all the way but we’ll get pretty far'), some suggestive dancing, and the very thought of John Travolta in drag! Also Penny’s mother is a Christian fanatic (which would offend some, but her being anti-Christian, as most reviewers said, is a little harsh) and she ties Penny to her bed and makes her listen to hymns; however, she says Penny should pray for her friend. There is a lot of segregation and fat joking, as well as one use of the word “cracker” at a white person. Even with the negatives, there is so much positive that this movie is a must see. It’s rated “PG” for a reason, though.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4½
—William W., age 13
Positive—A fantastic film!!! I definitely left the movie in a really upbeat, happy mood (and I wanted to see it for a second time)!!! I thought it was a good family flick that shows that all people are equal: big and small, black and white, etc and that when you really believe in something you have to stand for it even if it is unacceptable in the public’s eyes… such as Tracy marching with her black friends or hugging them much to the dismay of some others. The entire movie is one perky spectacle though it can be serious when it needs to be (such as when Queen Latifah sings “I Know Where I’ve Been”), but it also addresses issues in a fun, non-depressing way. I don’t understand the negative reviews to be honest. I know everyone is entitled to their opinion but perhaps they were taking the movie too seriously. It’s not trying to offend anyone and you’re not supposed to look into it too deeply. It’s a light-hearted comedy. Let me address some of the issues people are having and give my personal take on them:

-John Travolta plays Tracy’s mom: cross-dressing in movies doesn’t sit well with me, HOWEVER Travolta’s Edna is not a man dressed as a woman, nor does it ever suggest he is a drag queen. He is literally supposed to be a woman. That’s why it’s funny, because it’s believable. He’s hilarious!!!
-Penny’s mom… giving a bad name to Christianity?: No. She is a minor character who is hilarious. Christians don’t have to leave feeling offended she’s not trying to bash us. It’s light comedy. I didn’t see that “dirty joke book.” I looked for it after reading the reviews, but didn’t see it. She had a joke book at one point, but that was it. Other minor things:
Yes, Mrs Von Tussle says in a song that she “screwed the judges” in one line of one song. Would a child even get that? It’s very brief. The flasher. He is mentioned in a line of a song, and you see who he is, but nothing is actually seen. A cigarette dispenser in which the cigarette comes out of a donkey’s butt in a joke shop. Funny, yes? Drinking? I don’t recall any of that by any of the characters doing that. Oh wait, there was a shot of 2 random extras holding a drink, but that was it.
The teacher with breasts drawing. Ok, it was a little unnecessary, but you need to know that it was a very, very quick sketch of a guy, not a girl, and it wasn’t sexual, so you don’t have to flip out about that, if you’re going to see the movie.

Lyrics such as “The blacker the berry the sweeter the juice. The darker the chocolate, the richer the taste.” Do those have to be taken sexually? Were they intentionally sexual? Maybe. But that’s only if you think that way. It’s a great song!!! Seaweed is a black guy who is saying there’s nothing wrong with him. Yes, there is butt slapping. I guess you could say it’s uncalled for, but a lot of it (but not all) is just fun dancing and not “whoa sex alert.” The language is pretty tame. There’s an a-word, and I think maybe one or two d**n, and I think maybe one oh my *** in the entirety of 2 hours.

It’s a cute movie. It really is!!! Mostly girls of all ages would enjoy this movie, I think (most guys aren’t into musicals). If you’re an adult and really worried about it because of the knocking it’s received by some people, watch it first before showing young kids. I’d say it would be okay for them, as I’m easily offended and am picky when it comes to movies and didn’t have a problem with this one. Just remember to take everything with a grain of salt. It’s light-hearted and fun!!!
My Ratings: Good / 4½
—Rosie, age 17, Canada
Positive—I really thought that this movie was great for a mother daughter date. I loved how there was singing and acting and dancing. It had a great high school musical background. I thought that the only offensive thing was when they called the african americans negro because I am not very used to people in this world saying that to them. It was also offensive when they would use bad words and the manager of the TV show tries to get Tracy’s father to turn against his wife and fall for her. Other then that this film was great and all the actors chosen for the different roles did GREAT!
My Ratings: Good / 4½
—Alexa, age 12
Positive—“Hairspray” was an amazing movie, and now my favorite! This movie was overall, very enjoyable. There were some great moral lessons on racism and how if you really believe in something that is morally right, no matter your weight, height, personality, etc., you can help make a difference/change. “Hairspray” was very funny and had some great musical acts. Every actor and actress in this movie did a wonderful job. Especially John Travolta (Edna) and Nikki Blonsky (Tracy). Although this movie was amazing, there were some mild inappropriate parts. There is quite a lot of suggestive dancing in some parts. Plus, the a** word and the d**n words were mentioned once or twice. But overall I recommend this movie for people who either do or do not like musicals because it’s just so good that you’ll have to love the music. And especially for people who love funny movies with great moral lessons. But I would not recommend this movie for people under 12.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4½
—Matthew, age 13
Positive—This movie was very good and fun. It kept me entertained the whole time, and there weren’t any boring parts which is a good quality in a movie to me. The singing was really good. I was surprised to hear Zac Efron say a bad word, which in my case made me not like him as much since he is in another kids' musical, “High School Musical.” I liked how Penny and Seaweed loved each other, despite their race. This movie probably should have been rated PG-13, just for the suggestive content. I love this movie and I plan to buy it when it comes out on DVD.
My Ratings: Good / 4½
—Ellen, age 13
Positive—This was a feel good movie—it was not meant to offend anyone, people who were offended, need to calm down because classics such as “Grease” and “West Side Story” include some “objectionable” content, too. Traditionally, the role of Edna is played by a man, so John Travolta played her. He did a good job. This is supposed to be set in the fifties: everyone smoked, and girls in movies were always boy-crazy. I was a bit miffed to see Zac Efron in yet another movie, but other than that, I was not offended by anything in this movie.
My Ratings: Good / 4½
—Victoria O., age 13
Positive—I thought this movie was great! True, there were a few objectionable sequences, but all in all, I really enjoyed this film. I have some friends that are overweight, and they really liked seeing a main character that wasn’t completely anorexic, and I did too. I also loved seeing Zac Efron in another movie, though I think I preferred him in the “High School Musical” movies. I was a little shocked to hear him use a bad word, but it was fairly brief. I would recommend this movie to anyone over twelve.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4½
—Stephany, age 15
Positive—I loved this movie!! The music was great, the acting was superb, and the dancing was wonderful. The entire time I was watching it I was wishing that it would never end. There were a few objectionable things in it but what can you expect? No movie is perfect. There were some cusswords. to my disappointment, Zac Efron did say 2 cuss words, Kiss my a** and d***. However, overall there weren’t that many. I enjoyed the movie very much. Instead of showing you that you have to look a certain way to be beautiful and to be noticed the movie showed you that No matter what you look like the most important thing is what is inside of you. I am planning on buying it on DVD when it comes out and maybe go watch it again!
My Ratings: Better than Average / 5
—Rachel, age 16
Positive—This movie was really good. I found some parts off it to be offensive, but it was still good.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4½
—Brandon, age 12
Positive—This is a very fun movie and overall has mostly good messages, but there are a few things that bugged me. Most of all the dancing was not very clean. It was better than I expected, but it was still iffy. Also one scene was very much PG-13, but it was shown as wrong. As for Penny’s mom, she didn’t bother me as much, because she was shown as a hypocrite; watching the tv show she wouldn’t let her daughter watch, reading dirty jokes and more. But otherwise, this was an awesome movie! It should have been PG-13 though.
My Ratings: Average / 4
—Anna Rose, age 16
Positive—“Hairspray” is an absolutely fantastic film which successfully brought the stunning musical to the big screen. The singers were amazing, and I was impressed greatly by all of their acting skills. Everything was incredibly vibrant and after each song I had the urge to break out into applause. While viewing, I did not find anything particularly offensive. I was honestly not focused on the jokes or seeking crude language—the story kept my attention and I was far more interested in the characters and development. I would strongly recommend it to any musical-lover, especially teenagers.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 5
—Katie S, age 16
Positive—This movie was AMAZING ! “Hairspray” is a movie you want to see over and over and over again. The characters in this film where great. Kids of all ages need to see this. We took a 6 year old and a 4 year old with us and they had an absolute blast. If you haven’t seen this movie, GO SEE IT ! Nikki Blonski, she did very well for a first timer. Zac Efron, excellent as usual. John Travolta, best I’ve seen in years. Amanda Bynes, funnier than ever. Queen Latifah, very very good, but could have done better. Elijah Kelly, wonderful. Overall, EXCELLENT!!!
My Ratings: Excellent! / 5
—Sara Kennedy, age 15
Positive—This movie teaches that being different isn’t bad! Tracy is a good example for this. Although, it did have some inappropriate dancing, some language, and I agree that this should be rated PG-13, but in the end it was all beautiful! (but still, if those things would have been taken out, this movie could have been one of the best throughout the year for me). It shows that no matter what race you are, or how much you weight, you are still worth a lot! *and that’s right from the Bible!!* It was also very funny, I loved Amanda’s performance in this!! Mot to mention John’s outfit as a woman!! But overall, this is the perfect movie to express that being different isn’t bad, and if you notice, there aren’t many movies like this being made nowadays.
My Ratings: Average / 5
—Laura, age 14
Positive—…this movie was very sweet. I thought it was better than the original. …There were some morally acceptable parts that no one ever mentions. Such as not discriminating against weight or race. I thought it was a very excellent moral that should be recognized. Before you read all the negative comments, watch the movie for yourself and get past the fact that, yes, it can be somewhat offensive to people.
My Ratings: Better than Average / 4½
—Chrissy, age 17
Positive—…it was really good!!! The only thing I didn’t like was the mother (John Travolta)—I think they should’ve had a women play her!! It was pointless, and I don’t know why he was in the movie. I loved the movie besides that!!! It was just really stupid how the mother was a man. Other than that, the movie was pretty clean, and I enjoyed it… I would watch it again.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Good / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Rebekkah, age 16
Positive—This movie is one of the best movies of 2007!!! I can’t get enough of it!!! It’s so funny! And the songs are all great! I love it! Of course, there are some sexual references, but it has a great moral about how God made men equal. And it’s NOT true that it’s a girl movie. I’m a boy and I love it!!!
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Sam, age 11
Positive—I gave this film a positive rating because I enjoyed this movie, and thought it was well made, but that still leaves the fact that there are problems with it. It definitely was underrated. A PG-13 rating would have been more appropriate. I would advise that if parents allow their children to see the film, they watch it with them to explain things and tell them why the way some things that are portrayed are wrong, such as the disobedience to parents, and disrespect of authority, and the suggestive promiscuity of many of the girls.

One other thing that disturbed me was the way Penny’s mother was portrayed. It really bugs me that every time a “Christian” is portrayed in the media, it is some fanatic who does not even completely display Christian morals, and is made out to be the enemy. Looking past that, and the sexual innuendos in the movie, I found it to be a movie that I could enjoy watching, dancing to and walking around singing. It is a musical, and is meant to be taken lightly, but you should see it under the advisement that there are things that will be morally offensive.
My Ratings: Moral rating: Average / Moviemaking quality: 4½
—Erin, age 17
Positive—I noticed the big long review said not to take your children to Hairspray, I may not be an adult, but I know for a fact most vulgarity and so forth went straight over my little brother’s (8) head. I personally loved this movie and the moral was a surprise. You don’t get hidden Godly morals in movies anymore unless it’s something like Evan Almighty. There were only about three swear words (mostly d***, and the beginning of wh***, only to be cut off by a character interruption)if I remember correctly (I’ve seen it five times, three times in theatres). My Ratings: Moral rating: Better than Average / Moviemaking quality: 5
—Tevin, age 13