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Summary Judgment: New Movies

DEBORAH AMOS, host:

Back now with DAY TO DAY.

Movie fans, hold on to your beehive hairdos because "Hairspray" is now playing in theaters. To hear what the critics think of it, and other new releases, here's Mark Jordan Legan with Slate's Summary Judgment.

Mr. MARK JORDAN LEGAN (Slate): Based on the cult-classic film by John Waters, which was later turned into a Tony Award-winning Broadway musical, "Hairspray" now arrives in wide release. It tells the story of a big girl with big hair and big dreams of dancing on television.

The all-star cast includes Christopher Walken, Michelle Pfeiffer, and John Travolta in a fat suit as a Baltimore housewife.

(Soundbite of movie, "Hairspray")

Ms. NIKKI BLONSKY (Actress): (As Tracy Turnblad) Wait until dad sees you.

Mr. JOHN TRAVOLTA (Actor): (As Edna Turnblad) Sees me. He never notices what I wear. In 20 years he's never even said to me, nice (unintelligible) or nothin'.

Ms. BLONSKY: (As Tracy Turnblad) Now he will.

Mr. TRAVOLTA: (As Edna Turnblad) Well, maybe if he leaves that shop for five minutes.

Mr. LEGAN: The nation's critics say it's a good hair day. USA Today cheers: a consistently flashy, rousing and rambunctious movie spectacle. Premiere shouts: colorful, sassy and brisk. And the New York Post raves: "Hairspray" is the best and most entertaining movie adaptation of a stage musical so far this century.

And if Travolta in drag isn't progressive enough for you, how about Adam Sandler and Kevin James pretending to be a married gay couple in order to get health benefits in "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry."

(Soundbite of movie, "I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry")

Unidentified Man (Actor): (As character) Who's that?

Mr. KEVIN JAMES (Actor): (As Larry Valentine) That's Paula. She's my late wife.

Unidentified Man: (As character) So you haven't always been gay?

Mr. JAMES: (As Larry Valentine) No. I'm a - I'm newly gay. When she died, I knew I'd never find another woman who'd make me as happy. And that's when I boarded the dude train.

Mr. LEGAN: The Seattle Post-Intelligencer's not on board with this one, announcing: it's kind of like "Tootsie," only without the drag, or the class, or the laughs. Rolling Stone frowns: no comedy this year can beat this dud for mealy-mouthed hypocrisy. And the Wall Street Journal calls "Chuck and Larry" synthetic and insufferable.

And in limited release, the eclectic filmmaker Danny Boyle, who has made everything from "Trainspotting" to "28 Days Later," now tackles deep space with the sci-fi thriller "Sunshine," where in the future the sun is dying and an emergency crew tries to travel to the distant star in hopes they can save it and thus mankind.

(Soundbite of movie, "Sunshine")

Unidentified Woman (Actor): (As character) You made a mistake.

Unidentified Man (Actor): (As character) What are you trying to say, Corey(ph)?

Unidentified Woman: Harvey said there's not enough oxygen to get us to the payload delivery point, but there is. There just isn't enough oxygen to get all of us there.

Mr. LEGAN: Even though Variety sniffs, "Sunshine" initially burns brightly, but finely implodes into a dramatic black hole, most of the critics enjoy this adventure. Hollywood Reporter calls it extraordinary, and the Chicago Tribune warmly embraces "Sunshine" - a near-classic modern sci-fi thriller.

Man, the sun is very important to not only our existence and survival but also to the sunscreen and power drink industry. And for those of you wondering just how far away the sun is from Earth, well, if you drove towards it at 60 miles an hour, it would take you 176 years to get there. And for some of our listeners, I know I just described your morning commute.

AMOS: Mark Jordan Legan is a writer living and driving in Los Angeles. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Mark Jordan Legan

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