Thursday, August 9, 2007

Good Morning, Baltimore!

"I love you Baltimore / Every day's like an open door / Every night is a fantasy / Every sound's like a symphony"

Karincita and I went to see Hairspray on Tuesday evening and loved it. The movie was silly, campy musical fun! Nikki Blonsky was charming as Tracy Turnblad and James Marsden earned nine Cutieboy Points as Corny Collins. John Travolta actually added sweetness to Edna and there is no denying the man can dance, even in a fat suit. Christopher Walken was endearingly creepy as Wilbur and Queen Latifah (as always) rocks it out as Motormouth Maybelle. Karincita thought Elijah Kelley was a total heartthrob as Seaweed; we'll both be watching his career trajectory closely.

I've always had a soft spot for John Waters' original Hairspray, that cult paean to big hair, dancing, the 1960s civil rights era, and "Bawlmer, hon". It's darker and more subversive than the musical; it is, after all, from the twisted mind of John Waters. I think I've seen that movie three times and with each viewing, the Baltimore-shaped space in my heart grows bigger, softer. I even find myself correcting the movie: "That's SO not Mervo! That's over by Morgan State!"

The movie musical was actually filmed in Toronto due to its budget and scope. I suppose crane shots would be nearly impossible in the real Hampden, but I have to admit that I was initially disappointed about the location change. I wanted to get the same giddy thrill I got when I saw Meg Ryan's character walking around Franklin Square in Sleepless in Seattle or when I recognized bits of downtown in Live Free or Die Hard. I had to settle for an internal "HEE!" when Seaweed invites Tracy and her friends to Motormouth's record party and the oh-so-very-white kids get all squirrelly about going to North Avenue. Mm-hm.

Any time I see Baltimore onscreen, I turn into one of those people who freak out at a show when the band's lead singer says, "Rock on, uh, (looks at hand) Springfield!" No matter that when I go back to Baltimore to visit, I almost always think, "I grew up here? What a dump!" Hollywood magic makes my hometown shine in the movies.

I am suddenly craving a slice of pecan pie and a large coffee from the now-closed Louie's Café. I suppose it is true that you can never truly go home again, eh? Sigh...
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