Reviewer's grade: A-
Watching John Travolta dance in a fat suit and muumuu may not sound like a good time, but it has its charms, as does the movie he does it in. He stars as the mother of a Baltimore high school student in 1962 whose great ambition is to dance on the local television equivalent of "American Bandstand."
But while young Tracy Turnblad (Nikki Blonsky) is a bundle of joy, she's also a bundle of chub and none of the media powers who be want her to appear on the show. What's a girl to do? Christopher Walken is Father Turnblad and his song with Travolta is one of the movie's highlights. The funny Amanda Bynes is Tracy's best friend, James Marsden is the host of the show and Michelle Pfeiffer loses the catsuit to be just plain catty as the racist TV station manager. Zac Efron (if your daughter's in junior high, ask her who he is) is the program's heartthrob; Brittany Snow is Pfeiffer's cute, blonde (read "snotty") daughter.
Look, too, for Queen Latifah and Elijah Kelley. It's more lightweight than Juan Diaz, but it's energetic, fun and harmless. It may make some stars, but it won't make Baltimore a vacation destination. PG