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Stars: Nikki Blonsky, John Travolta, Michelle Pfeiffer, Christopher Walken, Queen Latifah, James Marsden, Amanda Bynes, Zac Efron, Elijah Kelley

Director: Adam Shankman

Energy positively flows from the screen in this high-octane version of the hit Broadway musical, based on the satirical film of 1988. It's 1962, and Tracy Turnblad (Blonsky) has ambitions to become a TV musical star. She has two disadvantages - she's about 4ft 10in and weighs around 14 stone.

Her mother (Travolta) is twice her size and hasn't been outside the house in 11 years, while eccentric Dad (Walken) runs the joke shop below their apartment. But nothing fazes Tracy. The people she greets in the opening number (Good Morning, Baltimore, one of the film's best) include dustmen, the local flasher (John Waters, director of the '88 original) and the town drunk.

So it's natural that, after achieving her ambition of getting on The Corny Collins Show, she should side with the show's black dancers on a protest march against the station boss (Pfeiffer), who's cancelled 'Negro Day' - when they take over Corny's show once a month under their emcee Motormouth Maybelle (Latifah).

Will this ruin Tracy's chances of winning the show's Miss Hairspray contest, where the favourite is the boss's awful daughter (Brittany Snow)? Well, it is a musical.

Blonsky is no great dancer and no better than good as a singer, but she's still perfect for the role. Even so, she's upstaged by some of her more professional co-stars. Travolta waddles a fine line between excruciating and delightful as her two-ton Mom and just comes down on the right side: the dance he does with Walken to Timeless to Me is a real charmer.

Marsden (Cyclops in the 'X-Men' films) is a revelation as Corny and can really sing. And an alarmingly thin Pfeiffer proves that she, too, can belt out a tune. Bynes is cute as Tracy's best friend, although several inches taller than vis-a-vis Kelley. Her prim mother (Allison Janney) warns her over her relationship with a black man with 'Just wait 'til your father gets out of prison'.

Listen to the songs here, as well, and you'll realise they have a bit more bite than you might expect. For a laugh in the lyrics, it's hard to choose between Efron's 'Tracy I'm in love with you, no matter what you weigh' and Bynes' 'Now I've changed to chocolate, I'm never going back'. Despite its lack of a show-stopping song towards the end, this one weighs in an outright winner.

David Quinlan

USA 2007. UK Distributor: Entertainment. Colour by de Luxe.
116 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 15 Jul 2007