Hairspray: 6 Thoughts I Had Re-Watching This Phenomenal 2007 Musical For The Umpteenth Time

James Marsden and other characters in Hairspray
(Image credit: New Line Cinema)

For those that don’t know, I am a huge fan of musicals and I have been for many years. Ever since I was a kid, you could spot me singing along to some of the best modern musicals, or some of the older classical movie musicals, or anything else in-between. If it had a dance sequence and lyrics, I was down. One of those musicals that I loved was Hairspray, and I’m not talking about the original comedy film from the 1980s, or even from the 2002 Broadway musical.

No, I’m talking about the 2007 musical film starring Nikki Blonsky, Zac Efron, and many other big-time stars. I think this film heavily outweighs its predecessor in so many ways, and I have re-watched it so many times just because I love it so much. And, as I was healing from wisdom teeth surgery a couple weeks ago and indulging my Hairspray needs, several thoughts came to my head about why this 2007 movie is truly one of the best modern musicals out there.

James Marsden in Hairspray.

(Image credit: New Line Cinema)

This Music Bops

Seriously, Marc Shaiman did not need to go this hard on a musical about a girl wanting to be on a dancing show in a racially segregated society, but the music in this is just fantastic from start to finish. From the opening chords of “Good Morning Baltimore” to the beat of “Run And Tell That,” to the love song, “Without Love,” every single song in this musical hits, from start to end. 

There is not a song on this soundtrack that I skip any time I listen to it from the very beginning, but that’s simply because the music in Hairspray is all bop and deserves so much praise for how fun, fast-paced, and skillfully written each of its songs are. 

Zac Efron in Hairspray.

(Image credit: New Line Cinema)

I’m So Happy Zac Efron Still Does Musicals From Time To Time

Look, I totally understand why Zac Efron stepped away from musicals for so long after his time with Disney and the High School Musical cast. He wanted to prove that he’s a worthy actor and has some serious talent - and I totally agree! Efron is very talented!

Efron's been in so many films that have really showcased his abilities as an actor, such as his dramatic talent in Charlie St. Cloud, or his comedic timing in Neighbors, or even his action skills in Baywatch, alongside fellow hunk of Hollywood, Dwayne Johnson. But there’s just something about Efron in musical roles, and Hairspray is no different. 

He just bodies every scene he’s in. His voice is smooth like butter, his dance moves are precise, and he has that charming smile and charisma to match, which makes him perfect for musicals like this. I was so happy to see him as part of The Greatest Showman cast, because he truly does have some amazing talent when it comes to musicals. 

And, while I don’t think we’re going to be seeing him in a new musical anytime soon, I can at least openly say that Hairspray was a great way of showing his musical talent in a way that had nothing to do with Disney. If he ended up doing another musical down the line, I’ll gladly be there to watch it in the theaters. 

Amanda Bynes in Hairspray.

(Image credit: New Line Cinema)

Amanda Bynes Is So Good In Hairspray

As someone who has lived a good portion of her life looking up to Amanda Bynes from her time on Nickelodeon, it did make me sad when she ended up retiring from acting several years ago, but I know it was for her own good, as she was going through her own personal problems at the time. 

However, as a fan of her past work, I can most certainly say that Hairspray was one of the best projects that she had ever done, and I mean that with my whole heart. Her as Penny was the perfect casting. While I loved seeing Ariana Grande as the iconic character in the live version of Hairspray in 2016, there’s just something about Bynes as Penny that works. 

Bynes was able to perfectly personify the quirky nature of Penny and bring new light to the character while also still making sure that her best friend, Tracy, was the star of the show, and her chemistry alongside Elijah Kelly was stellar. If Bynes ever made a return to acting, I’d love to see her in a musical role like this one again. But, even so, I’m happy that she’s happy now.

The protest scene in Hairspray.

(Image credit: New Line Cinema)

This Movie Is Still Relevant Today 

As much as we sometimes don’t like to face reality, I couldn’t help but think that a lot of the social issues that are talked about in Hairspray are still very relevant today. Is the United States as segregated as it was back in the 1960s? Not by a long shot. But there is still so much work that needs to be done for everyone to truly be equal. 

The themes of this movie still mean everything in the world we live in, about the never-ending fight for justice and for everyone to be given the shot they deserve, no matter what the color of their skin may be. The song, “I Know Where I’ve Been,” sang by the beautiful Queen Latifah during the protest scene, is beautiful, and a song that we should all take a listen to when we get the chance. 

John Travolta in Hairspray.

(Image credit: New Line Cinema)

Why Does John Travolta Look Better In A Dress Than Me?

John Travolta is a hell of a man. But damn, is he also a hell of a woman. 

Travolta as Edna Turnblad was just perfect casting, especially with his iconic role in Grease, another legendary musical, so it’s no wonder that Travolta knows how to move his feet well. But seriously, he played this part wonderfully and made me jealous of his confidence to walk around in a sequined dress. But, seriously, how does he look so good? It’s driving me nuts. 

The cast of Hairspray.

(Image credit: New Line Cinema)

“You Can’t Stop The Beat” Is A Great Message For Life In General

Something I’ve always loved about the final song of Hairspray, titled “You Can’t Stop The Beat,” is that it’s just a great piece in general, full of life, really awesome lyrics and a sick dance number. As I’ve gotten older, though, I’ve started to realize the true meaning behind the song, and honestly, it’s a great message for how we live our lives. 

Simply put, “You Can’t Stop The Beat” is the perfect way of saying, “you won’t stop me.” No matter what obstacles came in front of Tracy on her journey to get equal rights for her friends on the Corny Collins Show, she persevered, because she knew that integration was right and that her friends deserved the chance to be seen just as much as her. 

It’s about strength and the drive to do something that will change the world, and no one can stop you as long as you put your heart and soul into it, as everyone in Hairspray did. It’s a really beautiful way of saying “don’t let others drag you down.” And as someone who had very little confidence in herself as a child, I clung to that, and now, I still do.

While there are so many musicals out there to enjoy, Hairspray will continue to shine above the rest and be a part of my top ten for many years to come. But who knows? A new reboot might overtake it - maybe something from the 2022 movie schedule. Only time will tell. 

Alexandra Ramos
Content Producer

Big nerd and lover of Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire. Will forever hate season eight. Superhero and horror geek. And please don't debate me on The Last of Us 2, it was amazing!