Throwback Thursday: Beautiful Girl (2003)

We all know the image of women that Hollywood and Madison Avenue projects. Though we know that this image is completely unrealistic, we are told in both subtle and not to subtle ways, that this is who we have to be.

When we initially meet Becca Wasserman (Marissa Jaret Winokur) in the 2003 TV movie Beautiful Girl, she is content with her life. She is happy in her career choice as a 4th grade teacher and wants to teach her young students to be proud of who they are. Becca is what is referred to in Yiddish as zaftig. She has a supportive mother, Amanda (Fran Drescher), a loving fiancé, Adam Lopez (Mark Consuelos), and her grandmother, known as Nana (Joyce Gordon), who supports her unconditionally.

Becca’s perspective begins to shift when she runs into Libby Leslie (Reagan Pasternak), a former high school classmate who did not make those four years easy for her. With a limited wedding budget, she enters the local beauty contest to hopefully win a trip to Hawaii for her honeymoon with Adam. Will she win and more importantly, will Becca stay true to herself or conform to the image she is seeing around her?


The best thing I can say about this movie is that it is cute. The acting is good and the topic is as timely then as it is now. But it is a little too preachy for my sake. If I am to be honest, I prefer Winokur as the lead character in Hairspray. It has the same message, but the narrative has a subversive element that makes it appealing without being oversimplified.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

Hairspray Live Review

In 1988, filmmaker John Waters introduced audiences to a new film and a new heroine. Hairspray is the story of far from modelesque 1960’s teenager Tracy Turnblad (Ricki Lake) whose dream is to dance on the local teenage dance show. What starts out as one girl’s innocuous dream represents a larger goal of diversity, respect for others who are different and self-love.

From there, the movie became a hit Broadway musical with Marissa Jaret Winokur, and a movie musical starring Nikky Blonsky. Last night, Hairspray evolved again to become Hairspray Live on NBC. Stepping into Tracy’s buffont hair was newcomer Maddie Baillio.

I have mixed feelings on this production. What keeps this piece relevant and will continue to keep this piece relevant are the issues that lie just below the surface of the narrative. The problem was that it felt like a high production or a community theater production with a much larger budget and a cast of actors that many of us know and love. While the casting was perfect, especially with Harvey Fierstein once again stepping into the shoes of Edna Turnblad after doing it on Broadway, something was just off for me. There was something missing that I get from live theater that I did not get from this production.

Do I recommend it? Maybe.

Flashback Friday- From The Bright Lights Of Broadway To The Silver Screen-Chicago (2002) & Hairspray (2007)

Hollywood has a long tradition of making movies from Broadway musicals.  While movie musicals flourished during the golden age of movie making, the fervor for movie musicals has slowly dissipated over the past thirty years.  Hollywood has tried to resurrect the genre, but only a few of these movies have been successful.

In 2002, a movie was made based on the hit Broadway musical Chicago.

Velma Kelly (Catherine Zeta-Jones) and Roxie Hart (Renee Zellweger) are on death row, accused of murdering their significant others. Billy Flynn (Richard Gere) is the hot shot lawyer whose job it is to keep his clients famous and away from the  gallows.

I saw the musical on Broadway years ago. The movie is very true to the stage show. It is subversive, entertaining and a commentary on how fame and the justice system makes for strange bedfellows.

In 1988, indie filmmaker John Waters introduced the world to the movie Hairspray and a new leading lady: Tracy Turnblad.  Tracy is zaftig teenager in 1960’s Baltimore who just wants to dance on the local teenage dance show. But there are obstacles to her dream. In the early 2000’s, Hairspray was transferred to the Broadway stage and in 2007, it returned to silver screen, but as the musical.

Taking over from Ricki Lake in the original movie and Marissa Jaret Winokur on Broadway was Nikki Blonsky as Tracy. In the traditional John Waters style, John Travolta and Christopher Walken play Tracy’s parents, Edna and Wilbur.

While I did enjoy this movie, it is a very colorful, sort of family friendly version of the original movie. It looses some of the biting satire and subversive quality with the 2007 movie.  But, over all, it’s not bad.

I recommend Chicago, but maybe not Hairspray.

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