Travolta as Edna is worth admission


I was eager to see this remake of the 1988 John Water's classic, campy movie, which later evolved into a Broadway musical winning multiple Tony Awards in 2003 including "Best Musical." Perhaps even more so I was really anxious to see how John Travolta was going to pull off being a rather rotund, middle age housewife and the mother to a teenage girl.

Set in 1962 Baltimore in a neighborhood of row houses, we have the Turnblad family living above the Hardy-Har-Har joke store owned by Wilbur Turnblad (Christopher Walken). Wilbur's extra-large size wife Edna (John Travolta in a fat suit) gives a new definition to the term "stay-at-home mom" as she hasn't left their apartment in 10 years, since she was a size 10. Their daughter, Tracy (newcomer Nikki Blonsky), has one dream in life, to be a dancer on the "The Corny Collins Show" (a local weekday television program in the style of Dick Clark's "American Bandstand").

One day at school, Tracy is sent to detention (not her fault) and meets up with a group of mostly black kids who are developing new dance styles. Tracy fits right in with her new friends, who show her some of their new moves.

All along, Tracy has had a crush on school heartthrob Link Larkin (Zac Efron), a regular on the Corny Collins show. When Link sees Tracy's new dance steps at school, he encourages her to try out for a just-announced opening on the dance show.

Link's steady dance partner on television is Amber Von Tussle (Brittany Snow), and Amber's manipulative mom, Velma (Michelle Pfeiffer), is the TV station manager. Velma keeps the Corny Collins show segregated and will not allow any black kids to dance on the show, except for the once monthly "Negro Day."

Despite Amber's and Velma's antics, Tracy becomes a regular.

When Velma decides to cancel "Negro Day," Tracy becomes involved in a more important battle. She helps lead a protest march along with local R&B record store owner Motormouth Maybelle (Queen Latifah).

John Travolta's part alone is worth the price of admission. However, it is new actress Nikki Blonsky, who was selling ice cream before the nationwide talent search found her, who really makes this movie work. Watch closely and you will see cameo appearances by John Waters, and Ricki Lake.

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