Sunday, May 20, 2007

Oprah Loooooves Hairspray. Michelle Still Hates Interviews

Sometimes you see something that sets off so many different feelings in you that you don't even know where to begin. Such was the experience of watching Oprah's gushfest with the cast of Hairspray last week. She gushed so much I feared she would be rushed to County General for dehydration treatment.

She didn't just love the movie. She loooooooovvvvveed it. She loved it with several exclamation points. Either that or she owns stock in it. See for yourself...

I rarely watch Oprah but now I understand why Tom Cruise was jumping on couches. I thought she might be impersonating Arsenio Hall what with all the artificial whooping. John Travolta, a close personal friend of Oprah... and she wants you to know it, charmed the crowd and himself. He loves the accent he created for Edna Turnblad. He loves it so much that even after spending an inordinate amount of time talking about it, he brought it up again after the commercial break. Unfortunately one of Edna's most famous lines --the one about her diet pills wearing off --is almost unintelligible under the affected Baltimorean. I love what he says about the difficulties of musicals, that's a smart answer. But when he's talking about the accent all I can think of is the scene in Waiting for Guffman where Corky St. Clair tries an accent on for size.

Based on the scenes shown we know Hairspray is colorful and bouncy. It looks like a lot of fun if suspiciously frantic in proving itself so (breathe a tentative sigh of relief). Musical comedy works best when you can't feel the heavy lifting. Hopefully the fatsuits, accents, wigs, and uneven score won't cause the talent to sweat.

Following Travolta was Michelle Pfeiffer. Ahem. After my heart stopped pounding (SO good to see her again. It's been years) I started giggling and feeling for her. She still hates to be interviewed. She hates it with exclamation points. She is one of the great movie stars but when it comes to playing herself? That aint her forte. She can't form sentences. She doesn't want to answer questions. She was not made for forced patter. My mind lept back to her very uncomfortable interview with Barbara Walters back in the day. It was chilly in there. And here on Oprah, sandwiched between the eager to please Travolta and the warm charisma of Queen Latifah, the temperature dropped a bit, too.

Here is the Michelle portion plus a bit o' Queen and Nikki Blonsky.

My favorite part is the last bit. Oprah realizes Michelle has been quiet and no one has been addressing her and she tries for an olive branch. The response is the most relaxed Pfeiffer gets. "Someone has to play the villain."


They're beating the drums early for this potential crowd pleaser, aren't they? It doesn't open until July 20th and it got a full hour on Oprah two months prior. That's a lot of time to fluff some cotton candy. It better be sweet.


Damselfly said...

What bothered me was no mention of the original movie...Ricki Lake or the B film great Divine....Those are BIG shoes to fill, Mr. Travolta.

It was almost as if it never existed...Considering John Waters directed the original and he wrote the thing...he was owed a bit of attention.

Glenn Dunks said...

I guess they only want to make the connection between the stage musical. My theory is that The Producers had a big fuss about how it was movie-stage-movie and that flopped, so maybe they don't wanna focus on that. Who knows though, really.

I thought Oprah was gonna go into a fit in that first clip. Crazy.

I gotta say though, as great as it is to have Michelle back and she looks quite great in the role, I can't help but imagine how hilarious it would have been to have Olivia in that role. Instead, we get the star of Grease and the star of Grease 2, which is still utterly bizarre.

Anonymous said...

Nice to see Michelle and Christopher Walken sharing an on-screen moment again. Truly lets you know Catwoman has returned.

Glenn Dunks said...

"Who else could do it?"
"I dunno."

The original Broadway cast member perhaps?

adam k. said...

Wow, this was all so scary. Oprah's woops were terrifying and felt forced. Travolta's accent sounded bizarre and affected. Michelle seemed very uncomfortable and said "um" between every other word. I liked the kid, though.

I feel like this could still flop big-time. That would be unfortunate for the musical genre, but it could happen. Still, it looks like they basically did it, right, John Travolta notwithstanding, and when musicals are good, they generally do well, so maybe it'll all be fine.

Anonymous said...

Nathaniel, you are right on with the Waiting for Guffman moment. John Travolta was a poor choice in my book, and his "authentic" accent moment is priceless.

Also, Oprah so reminds me of Molly Shannon's old character on SNL "I love it, love it, LOVE IT!" You half expect her to kick up her legs.


damselfly --they did actually mention the movie a couple of times --just not in these clips. not often though. They never said john waters name.

glenn crazy. that woulda been "Sandy vs. Danny" That would've gotten crazy press

mikadzuki omg. i didn't even think of that.

adam k i'm really not worried. seems like it'll hit even if its' not great. Shankman's track record is scary but I he is from musicals --he was an assett to the Buffy musical episode ... and he has mentioned that its the first movie he feels he's been able to use his own sensibility on. we'll see. Maybe he'll surprise us.

adam p whats crazy about that whole thing is that Travolta is basically admitting right there that nobody wanted him to use the accent but he did it anyway ;)

I should say though that for all the aversion I have towards Travolta nowadays I do like him in musicals so I'll stay hopeful.

Neel Mehta said...

Ricki Lake makes a cameo in the new movie (reviewed here).

Maybe Oprah's off for the summer and couldn't resist bringing Travolta back before the end of the show's season.

Don't why he's bragging about the accent, though... it's not distracting, but not special. The film's strengths are in the rest of the cast.

Arun said...

Oh god that looks uncomfortable. I feel so bad for Michelle stuck between those two idiots. Isn't it kinda hilarious that Oprah has actually become a parody of herself. I felt like I was watching Maya Rudolph do her on SNL.

All that aside, it warms my cold dead heart to see the great one onscreen again, and she looks delicious in this film. So even if it does turn out to be a stinker (I don't think it will) at least La Pfeiffer will rise above it.


she does look delicious. I love the "you'll stop traffic. TRACY" delivery. so so funny/mean

hope the whole performance is strong but Neel, ya got me worried. You sound lukewarm on her.

And hearing there's no kiss in the "timeless to me" number --which is the highlight of the broadway show for sure... is deeply frustrating.

let's make a movie about civil rights and still be afraid of anything gay content-ish. even if the kiss is between a real man and a fictional woman (played by a man).

spineless. especially considering everyone behind the scenes is so very gay. maybe they've changed it since the test screening but i doubt it given past history.

Glenn Dunks said...

Basically anyone's impersonation of Oprah Winfrey will make me laugh. Debra Wilson, Maya Rudolph, Michel Laurie.

On the accent thing, I couldn't understand what John was saying a lot of the time. I THINK THE MOVIE WILL NEED SUBTITLES!!!

(that's a joke about people who think Australian/New Zealand movies should have subtitles)

adam k. said...

Olivia would've been cool for publicity reasons except that she doesn't read as evil AT ALL. Whereas that is Michelle's specialty. So I'm glad they decided to cast for artistic quality instead of publicity.

And yeah, leaving that kiss out DOES sound awfully spineless. It's things like that that make me dislike these kinds of "edgy" movies that are watered down to be made palatable for a wide audience.

Anonymous said...

I'm still frustrated that they even bothered to do this movie to begin with - I mean, does no one even bother renting movies or Netflixing?

I think rereleases are in need nowadays...

Glenn Dunks said...

I gotta say, if she's any good and she keeps charming the figurative pants off of people, Blonski could be going somewhere.

But could we really stomach two years in a row fraudulent Best Supporting Actress runs for debut actresses in musicals.

adam k. said...

What? Who did a fraudulent campaign last year?

I mean, other than Blanchett, Hathaway and McAvoy (they weren't in musicals...)

adam k. said...

Oh. haha. Well, I guess I don't consider JHud that fraudulent.

But in total, that's a LOT of fraud, isn't it?

Neel Mehta said...

Regarding Michelle in Hairspray: she's entertaining and a valuable asset to the film, but perhaps not the Glenn Close-like diva that audiences might want or expect.

Maybe others will regard it differently, but I just didn't see Michelle stealing this movie. She blends well into the ensemble behind Blonsky. (If I had to pick one standout supporting performance, it would be Walken's.)

Final note: this would be a good choice for a SAG ensemble nomination, but for Oscar, it looks favorable mostly in the tech categories. I just don't see it having the kind of momentum that will carry it for the rest of the year. It's a well-made but light film that makes for a good summer release.

PIPER said...

Why did they remake this?

Wasn't it wonderful the first time around?

Oh wait. Wait. I know the answers to these questions.

Anonymous said...

Oprah constantly gets grief from all sides it seems. It's her show and her tastes -- she can like whatever the hell it is that she wants. I'll try to enjoy "Hairspray" without thinking about the Oscars and just hope for the best. The episode played out like an hour informercial, but it was fun and not a big deal.

Everyone on there was affable enough -- Queen Latifah, John Travolta, Nikki Blonsky (I think that's her name), and even Michelle Pheiffer, though she acted like she would have rather had nails driven in her hands then being on that stage. I'm looking forward to the film at least -- it looks like it's going to be a hoot.

Harvey Fierstein still should have reprised his role in this though.