That "Hairspray" is good-hearted is no surprise. Adam Shankman's film, lovingly adapted from the Broadway musical, preserves the inclusive, celebratory spirit of John Waters's 1988 movie, in which bigger-boned, darker-skinned and otherwise different folk take exuberant revenge on the bigots and the squares who conspire to keep them down. The surprise may be that this "Hairspray," stuffed with shiny showstoppers, Kennedy-era Baltimore beehives and a heavily padded John Travolta in drag, is actually good. Appropriately enough for a movie with such a democratic sensibility, there is plenty of credit to go around. Mr. Shankman, drawing on long experience as a choreographer, avoids the kind of vulgar overstatement that so often turns the joy of live musical theater into torment at the multiplex. The songs, by Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman, are usually adequate, occasionally inspired and only rarely inane. And they are sung with impeccable diction and unimpeachable conviction by a lively young cast that includes Nikki Blonsky, Amanda Bynes, Zac Efron and the phenomenally talented Elijah Kelley.
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